'The day belonged to one man': Matt Scrafton's verdict on Blackpool's friendly win at Barrow

He might only have been on the field of play five minutes but the day still belonged to one man: Blackpool legend Ian Evatt.

Sunday, 21st July 2019, 11:29 am
Evatt brought time on his playing career with a short cameo

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Blackpool legend Ian Evatt delighted to call time on playing career with cameo a...

The Barrow boss called time on his distinguished career in typically-humorous fashion, donning tangerine-coloured boots for a fleeting cameo and throwing himself up front, rather than his more familiar role in defence.

It was a fitting way to end his playing days, taking on the club where he holds such fantastic memories, and the 37-year-old received the type of reception only reserved for genuine club greats.

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It was almost as if his retirement paves the way for the new stars of Blackpool’s next generation, to coincide with Simon Sadler’s new era.

Could Sullay Kaikai and Ryan Hardie be those new stars? The signs are certainly promising.

Kaikai produced another impressive display on the wing in what was his first 90 minutes for the Seasiders.

He was involved in the thick of the action from the very start, providing a delicious cross for Nathan Delfouneso to head Pool in front early on for what was the winger’s second assist in a matter of days.

It was by no means the perfect performance from the 23-year-old, who did waste two or three more-than-presentable chances. But already you can tell the former Crystal Palace man will be an important player for Simon Grayson this season.

Pool have been dying out for a winger that yes, it pacey and a threat, but actually backs up their potential with goals and assists. He's certainly got off to a good start with two assists in two games, now the goals need to follow.

Hardie, meanwhile, also put in a good shift, showcasing his pace and willingness to run in behind while also demonstrating neat and tidy footwork in possession.

Again, similarly to Kaikai, he probably ought to have done better with a couple of chances but at least he was getting in the right positions to score.

While Pool’s new signings showed glimpses, it was a club stalwart who stole the show.

Delfouneso, who has looked heads and shoulders above everyone else fitness wise so far this pre-season, showed a clinical touch to put Pool in front with a carbon-copy of the goal he scored against AFC Fylde in midweek.

But it was his defensive work that caught the eye, the forward making a string of vital, last-ditch headers in Pool’s own box to keep a Barrow side - who showed invention from set pieces - at bay.

Marc Bola had something of an off-day at left back and something didn't look quite right. Perhaps it’s too easy to suggest he’s been affected by the recent transfer speculation but he was beaten too easily by his man far too often.

Callum Guy also struggled a little over on the other side of Pool’s back four, although that’s not a great surprise given he’s a central midfielder by trade.

The end scoreline flattered Pool a little, the margin of victory being boosted by a goalkeeping howler that gave Armand Gnanduilet a tap-in and a late own goal.

Barrow side played some lovely, free-flowing football at times, reminiscent of the style Evatt played his part in at Pool during the Ian Holloway years.

It was certainly easy on the eye, they were just lacking a bit of quality and decisiveness in the final third. But you can see Evatt's influence across the team and they should enjoy plenty of success with that style in the National League this season.