Bowyer’s troops well drilled from the start

Time to celebrate opening day win
Time to celebrate opening day win
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High temperatures at Bloomfield Road on Saturday and certainly some high-tempo football in manager Gary Bowyer’s first competitive match in charge.

So is it also a genuine case of high expectations at Blackpool this season? It is far too early to speculate on the evidence of this 2-0 victory.

Ask Exeter manager Paul Tisdale, who combines high fashion sense with a high survival rate in the hotseat: “Ask me in 10 games – that’s the time to judge.”

No doubt it is a sentiment with which his Blackpool counterpart would concur, and Bowyer is too canny an operator to go overboard, but there was genuine, justified optimism in his voice afterwards, mixing a dose of realism with an expectation of more to come.

It is fair to say, though, that Bowyer’s heavy hand in getting some measure of organisation into his ranks was apparent.

His team were fluent, organised, played to a pattern, were not exposed – Orlando Bloom-like – at the back and, most of all, showed commendable amounts of energy.

And the size and shape of the side would appear reasonably– equipped on 90 minutes of judgement-time – for what lies ahead in what can be an intensely physical division.

Blackpool had a host of willing runners in the side and were particularly sharp on the break.

But this was not kick-and-rush stuff – they tried to pick a pass when they could.

It has to be said too that Exeter are a fair barometer to go by, having established themselves in League Two since promotion in 2012, and of course they were not disgraced against Liverpool in the FA Cup last season.

Bowyer could have been excused for thinking it was not going to be his day in the early stages of the contest, when Danny Philliskirk was involved in an accidental collision with a team-mate while they were both trying to get on the end of a Bright Osayi-Samuel left-wing centre after only 10 minutes.

Sad though it was to lose a player so soon, it did not unsettle Blackpool unduly and failed to halt their rhythm.

It was during the first half-hour of the contest that Osayi-Samuel was causing plenty of trouble with his raids along the left flank.

And Philliskirk’s replacement Colin Daniel, one of the afternoon’s seven Pool debutants, was not to be found wanting.

Within 10 minutes of coming on, he had set up the opening goal.

That came when he found striker Kyle Vassell with a neat pass, which the debutant striker took in his stride.

His shot did take a deflection off some part of goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik’s anatomy and looped into the net for a goal, one which silenced the commendably large contingent of Exeter supporters, who had made the long journey from the South West and who made their presence felt in a crowd officially put at 3,754 in a stadium fit for 17,000.

We all know the reason for the vast spaces and the Blackpool public’s continuing dissatisfaction with the owners is still all too clear to see.

There were a couple of turning points in the match, in which Blackpool rode their luck a bit.

Exeter’s Ollie Watkins hit the woodwork from point-blank range and an equaliser at that point might well have put a different complexion on things.

So too at the start of the second half. In an act of somewhat desperate defence, Andy Taylor tested his own keeper Sam Slocombe in an entirely involuntary way.

Taylor nearly nodded the ball into his own net but Slocombe made a back-breaking save to tip it over the bar as it looked like it was going in.

Either of those incidents could have been game-changers. As it was, Blackpool were to score a second on 52 minutes.

Brad Potts caused all manner of confusion in the Grecian ranks and Exeter’s Troy Brown put the ball past Olejnik. After that, the home side’s advantage rarely looked under threat.

Vassell and Osayi-Samuel made way for Mark Yeates and Jamille Matt, who made the move from Fleetwood to Bloomfield Road via Plymouth.

Matt got a few boos from the Exeter fan– they are Plymouth’s big rivals down West Country way, after all – but the home fans had no complaints.

He was a willing runner up front in his brief stint and his towering presence was also a useful weapon on defensive duties, clearing high balls from in and around the box.

There’s nothing like a win to set a team off on the right footing, but the club still exists under a shadow of off-field discord and the headlong direction in which it has been plummeted.

It’s a pleasant change to have a bask in sunshine but no-one yet knows how long it will last.