Blyth 0 Blackpool 2

Brad Potts in action against Blyth. Picture: Bill Broadley
Brad Potts in action against Blyth. Picture: Bill Broadley
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This match report could well become a collectors item for Blackpool fans - it’s actually going to concentrate on the football.

After months of off-the-field trouble dominating every match day, tonight’s trip to Blyth was unusually normal.

There were no protests, no drama and best of all they even managed to complete the game.

So with that in mind, let’s talk about the football.

On a beautiful summer’s evening on the north east coast Neil McDonald showed he’s not yet set on a particular formation for the Seasiders.

After Saturday’s 4-3-3 offering at Lancaster, Pool lined-up in a more convention 4-4-2 with Mark Cullen and Jack Redshaw paired together in attack for the first time.

The choice to drag his squad three hours away on a Tuesday night in July may seem an odd one, but it was contractual as part of the deal which saw Jarrett Rivers move from Blyth to Bloomfield Road in the summer.

In a nice touch boss McDonald handed the winger the captain’s armband for the evening.

While the new boss opted for no trialists on Saturday, two were in action last.

vastly experienced full-back Kevin McNaughton played 45 minutes at right-back and has been training with Pool all week, while striker Callum Ball came off the bench after being released by Scottish side St Mirren at the end of last season.

Much of the talk about Pool’s new-look squad so far surrounds its lack of experience, well McNaughton would certainly offer that.

He spent last season on loan at Bolton Wanderers and famously featured for Cardiff in the 2010 play-off final which saw Blackpool promoted to the Premier League.

On a dry and lively pitch last night McDonald’s men found it a little tricky to settle against a Blyth side full of energy in the early stages.

In fact they probably should have taken the lead on ten minutes when skipper Robbie Dale found space in the box and fired goal wards, it was a good test for keeper Kyle Letheren and one he was more than a match to.

As the game slowed down it started to suit Blackpool who began to show that little bit of quality.

And on 21 minutes they opened the scoring.

A superb diagonal by Brad Potts found Bright Samuel who’s persistence down the right created space for Connor Oliver to poke past keeper Adam McHugh.

A nice moment for the 21-year-old who will have no doubt had family and friends watching, his home town just the other side of nearby Newcastle.

The game’s stand-out player in the early exchanges was youngster Samuel who really caught the eye on the wing, and he almost got the game’s second on the half-hour.

He did brilliantly to take a David Ferguson pass out the air and fire just over from the edge of the box.

The rest of the half was much of a muchness, although Liverpool loan man Llyod Jones once again showed promise at the back - he’s very comfortable on the ball, as you’d expect from someone who has graduated through Liverpool’s academy.

McDonald made five changes at the break, including triallist Ball in place of the lively Redshaw in attack.

Former St Mirren man Ball almost made an instant impact as his neat flick teed-up John Herron who’s powerful effort was beaten away by the keeper.

With youngsters Henry Cameron and Luke Higham next to be introduced it left Blackpool with a very young looking line-up.

It’s clearly part of McDonald’s plan to have a core of young and promising players topped up by a handful of experience, some would say a risky tactic in a tough division like League One, but only time will tell.

While trialist Ball looked a million miles away from full match fitness, the former Derby man held the ball up pretty well, and doubled the scoring for Pool on 67 minutes.

Again Samuel was the architect, this time his left-wing cross was spilled by keeper McHugh right into the path of Ball a yard out.

The rest of the game faded without incident, and just as importantly for McDonald, without injury.

So what do the first two friendlies tell us? Well Blackpool probably need at least five more before they are ready for the start of the season.

McNaughton would be a start at right-back, they also need a tough experienced centre half, a tough and industrious midfield man an a striker of decent stature...although the infamous Nile Ranger could well be the man to plug that gap, he’s due back tomorrow.

Overall McDonald will be pleased to have got life as Pool boss under way, so far I’ve not heard a bad word said about him.

Sitting behind the dug-out last night he’s clearly a very technical coach, one who is constantly barking positional orders to his players.

I know it’s not trendy to be positive, but I actually think Blackpool have themselves a very credible manager with this one.

It’s just the rest of the club which now needs to get it’s house in order.

Overall it was another run-out, and 90 minutes at last!

Blackpool: Letheren (Doyle 45), McNaughton (Aldred 45) , Ferguson (Higham 55), Robertson (Dunne 45), Jones, Rivers (Cameron 55), Potts, Oliver (Herron 45), Cullen, Redshaw (Ball 45), Samuel.