Blackpool got their EFL Trophy campaign off to a winning start and in emphatic fashion as they saw off League Two Morecambe.
READ MORE: Blackpool v Morecambe as it happened
Blackpool got their EFL Trophy campaign off to a winning start as they saw off League Two Morecambe.
Goals from Ben Heneghan, Michael Nottingham, Ryan Hardie, Sullay Kaikai and Joe Nuttall capped off an encouraging display from the much-changed Seasiders.
Morecambe, whose goal came via Kevin Ellison, did pose problems for Simon Grayson’s men but the home side eventually cruised to victory thanks to their clinical display of finishing.
As has become the norm in this competition, there were wholesale changes in both camps from their respective weekend league clashes.
Morecambe made seven from their 3-1 defeat at Swindon Town, but Blackpool’s total was even higher at nine.
Joe Nuttall and Liam Feeney, who was handed the captain’s armband, were the only survivors from the weekend draw against Portsmouth.
Matty Virtue started for the first time this season while Calum Macdonald and Sean Scannell were handed debuts.
It was an open and end-to-end start to the game,with the first opening falling to the visitors just three minutes in.
Jordan Cranston sent a dipping volley hurtling towards goal that stand-in keeper Christoffer Mafoumbi could only parry, but he gathered the ball at the second attempt ahead of striker Cole Stockton.
A minute later, the deadlock was broken by Simon Grayson’s men and it came via an unfamiliar source in Ben Heneghan.
The centre back, who has now equalled his tally for all of last season, emphatically headed home from Liam Feeney’s corner on what was his first start since returning to the club.
Jordan Cranston came inches away from levelling matters on 12 minutes, beating both Mafoumbi and the Pool wall with a curling 25-yard free kick.
But fortunately for the Seasiders the ball slammed onto the inside of the post and back across the face of goal but to safety.
Just 60 seconds later, the Shrimps were awarded another free kick, but this time Cranston blazed his 35-yard effort well over the bar.
Despite going a goal down early on, Morecambe continued their bright start and remained the more threatening side.
Cranston was involved in the thick of the action again as he played a short corner to George Tanner on the edge of the Blackpool box and he sent a drilled effort narrowly over the bar.
Morecambe continued to produce opportunities on a regular basis, former Seasider John O’Sullivan the next man to have a go at goal only to see his shot blocked by a teammate from Tanner’s pullback.
Morecambe, much the better side in the opening stages, did finally equalise on 22 minutes through experienced campaigner Kevin Ellison.
Pool were undone by a diagonal from right to left, which Ellison controlled before cutting inside, sending an effort that deflected off Heneghan and into the back of the net.
Grayson’s side responded well to the setback and enjoyed a sustained spell of possession for the first time in the match.
Ryan Hardie saw sight of goal for the first time on the half-hour mark, sending a curling effort straight at keeper Mark Halstead.
Hardie slowly but surely began to grow into the game and brought a strong save out of Halstead with a low effort that was creeping into the far corner of the net had the Morecambe shot stopper not got a strong hand to it.
The Seasiders had plenty of joy down their right, with Liam Feeney becoming increasingly influential with cross after cross into the Morecambe box.
The hosts were unfortunate not to retake the lead on the stroke of half time after clattering the woodwork on two occasions in the space of a minute.
Michael Nottingham’s cross inadvertently struck the inside of the crossbar before Callum Guy was extremely unfortunate not to score when he struck both posts with his rocket.
But Blackpool’s pressure eventually told with the last action of the half, as Nottingham got the slightest of touches to divert Feeney’s cross into the far corner of the net to restore the Seasiders lead.
Feeney, so impressive in the first half, was taken off at the break and rested with Ollie Turton taking his place, the defender also taking the captain’s armband.
Just six minutes of the second half had elapsed when Turton managed to bag himself an assist, playing in Hardie who took a touch before curling home into the far corner with a clinical show of finishing.
Just before the hour-mark, Pool were reliant on a flying stop from Mafoumbi to maintain their two-goal lead as the keeper got down to his left to make a superb save from Stockton’s low drive.
Nathan Shaw was forced to make a vital clearance minutes after coming on as a second half substitute, clearing his lines after Mafoumbi had made a crucial save with his feet from Rhys Oates.
Pool looked to finish the game by adding to their tally, with Hardie going close to adding a second as he glanced a header just wide from Shaw’s centre.
Halstead then made solid stops to deny both Nuttall and substitute Sullay Kaikai, who again went close with a free kick on the edge of the Morecambe box.
The visitors almost pulled a goal back to make things exciting for the final five minutes, but Mafoumbi got a crucial hand to save Ellison’s effort.
But Pool added gloss to the scoreline with two further goals in the dying stages, Kaikai getting in on the action by slotting home into an empty net after Shaw’s curling effort had been saved, before Nuttall also notched his first goal for the club after Halstead fumbled his ambitious 30-yard effort over his own goalline.
The Seasiders’ next EFL Trophy group game comes away at Carlisle United next month.
Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Nottingham, Heneghan, Anderton, Feeney (Turton), Macdonald, Virtue (Shaw), Guy, Scannell (Kaikai) Hardie, Nuttall
Subs not used: Alnwick, Tilt, Spearing, Gnanduillet
Morecambe: Halstead, Conlan (Buxton), Cranston, Sutton, Wildig (Lynch), Lavelle, Oates, Tanner, Ellison, O'Sullivan (Mendes-Gomes), Stockton
Subs not used: Roche, Tutte, Brownsword, Howard
Referee: Marc Edwards
Attendance: 2,219 (189 Morecambe)