Southport 0-2 Blackpool: Shayne Lavery bags debut goal as Seasiders taste victory in opening pre-season friendly of the summer
Shayne Lavery netted a debut goal as Blackpool claimed a comfortable victory over Southport in their opening pre-season friendly of the summer.
The Northern Irishman, who signed from Linfield in June, doubled Blackpool’s lead in the second-half after Demetri Mitchell had given them the perfect start after just five minutes.
The Seasiders had plenty of other opportunities to make the scoreline more comfortable for themselves on their return to action just 41 days on from their Wembley triumph at the end of May.
But Southport, who play their football in the National League North, also had their chances, and rallied late on while Neil Critchley’s side were forced to end the game with 10 men following Kevin Stewart’s knock.
The Seasiders named two different line-ups for each half, as is tradition for the opening friendly in pre-season, as they gear up for their return to the Championship after a six-year absence.
The opening XI included new signing Reece James and 17-year-old academy right-back Jack Moore.
The second-half line-up, meanwhile, featured recent recruits Daniel Grimshaw, Callum Connolly, Olly Casey, Sonny Carey, Josh Bowler and Shayne Lavery
The likes of Chris Maxwell, Daniel Gretarsson, Teddy Howe, Kenny Dougall, Matty Virtue, Bez Lubala, Joe Nuttall and Gary Madine weren’t involved.
A heavy downpour of rain during the warm-up leading up to kick-off left some standing water in certain areas of the pitch, but the ball still ran okay.
Last season’s top goalscorer Jerry Yates saw sight of goal within the opening five minutes, as he cut in from the right to carve some space for himself - only for a Southport man to block his goalbound effort.
A minute later, however, the Seasiders broke the deadlock.
It followed CJ Hamilton’s first involvement in the game, as the rapid winger used his space to get beyond his man before pulling the ball back into the path of Demetri Mitchell, who swept home Blackpool’s first goal of pre-season in emphatic fashion.
The hosts had the ball in the back of the net with their first venture forward on 14 minutes, but their effort was ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Stuart Moore.
Colin Doyle was the guilty party, barging into Moore which allowed the ball run free to Marcus Carver who headed home into the back of the empty net.
At the other end, Mitchell was denied his second of the afternoon by a Southport block, after the winger had been found by a searching pass from Brad Holmes after some good build-up play.
Southport, a direct outfit, only caused Pool problems from long throws and set-pieces, but Critchley’s men dealt with them well.
After a slight lull in proceedings, Pool created two good openings in quick succession as Jordan Thorniley headed over after Cameron Antwi’s curling effort was palmed behind for a corner.
Southport hit back with a good chance of their own, as Jack Bainbridge headed wastefully wide from Niall Watson’s left-wing cross.
Mitchell, Pool’s standout performer in the opening half, created some space for himself once again, pulling the ball back into the path of young Holmes who fired high and wide.
CJ Hamilton then got away from Charlie Oliver over on the left flank, only to blaze well over when he really ought to have hit the target as a minimum.
Southport also squandered a big chance eight minutes before the interval, the unmarked Carver heading wide after latching onto Connor Wood’s knockdown.
Mitchell, ever the livewire, curled straight at Mason as Pool finished the half strongly, Yates also being denied by the feet of the Southport keeper.
The move began with the assured Marvin Ekpiteta using his pace to beat a Southport attacker to a dangerous ball over the tap, before showing the quality to pick out a teammate with a clever forward pass.
Southport still found time to waste a golden chance to equalise before the half-time whistle was blown, as Colin Doyle headed over after rising unchallenged from a corner.
The Seasiders made all 11 changes as expected at half-time, giving the Pool fans in attendance the chance to see a number of the club’s summer recruits for the first time.
But it was one of last season’s stars that had the first opening of the second period, as Keshi Anderson - who looked lively in the opening exchanges - whistled one just wide from 20 yards.
A moment later, the Seasiders were given another warning as one of Southport’s trialists was allowed far too much time to take the ball down at the back post, but thankfully debutant Daniel Grimshaw stood tall to make a smart stop.
Oliver Sarkic, a man who struggled for game time in his debut season with the Seasiders, was looking bright off the bench, often dropping deep from attack to link up attacks.
Winger Josh Bowler, meanwhile, fired over after creating some space for himself with a drop of the shoulder over on the right flank.
Pool’s second-half line-up was arguably the stronger of the two and so it told, as Critchley’s men dominated and pinned back the hosts for the majority of proceedings.
A flowing move involving one and two-touch football almost resulted in a second of the afternoon, while James Husband had a close-range effort scrambled clear just a few years away from the goalline.
Shayne Lavery almost produced a debut goal when he cleverly flicked Anderson’s cross towards the far corner, but Mason did superbly to keep the Northern Ireland striker at bay.
The Seasiders were dealt a blow on 65 minutes when Kevin Stewart was forced off with a knock. Having already made all 11 changes, Critchley wasn’t permitted to bring on a player that featured in the first-half - leaving Pool to continue with 10 men.
Despite being a man down, it was Pool that were still in control of proceedings with some patient keep-ball, although they weren’t offering as much of an attacking threat as before - quite understandable, perhaps, given Lavery was having to lead the line by himself.
Sonny Carey, signed recently from Kings Lynn Town, stung the gloves of Mason with a rasping strike from long-range.
The Seasiders eventually doubled their lead with 14 minutes remaining and it was two of Pool’s summer recruits that combined well to find that second.
Bowler showed patience on the right wing before crossing to the unmarked Lavery, who picked out the bottom corner with a smart stooping header.
Bowler should have added a third himself just seconds later when the ball fell kindly for him at the back post but, despite being in plenty of space, the ex-Everton man blazed over with his rising effort.
The home side almost reduced the deficit with 10 minutes remaining when left-back Charlie Oliver was set free, but Grimshaw stood tall to make an impressive stop with his feet to preserve Pool’s clean sheet.
The visitors saw out the remaining minutes in a patient fashion, keeping hold of the ball and making their opponents do all the running - eventually settling for their two-goal victory.
Seasiders don’t return to action until Saturday, July 17, when they take on Newport County in a behind-closed-doors friendly during the club’s training camp.
Their next friendly in front of fans comes against Scottish giants Rangers at Bloomfield Road on Wednesday, July 21.
Games against Carlisle United, Burnley and Morecambe follow before Blackpool begin the Championship campaign at Bristol City on Saturday, August 7.
Southport: Mason, Oliver, J. Doyle, Anson, C. Doyle, Woods, Munro, Watson, Bainbridge, Vassallo, Carver
Subs: Benjamin, Tharme, Archer, Trialist A, Hmami, Trialist B
Blackpool’s first-half XI: S. Moore, J. Moore, Ekpiteta, Thorniley, James, Antwi, Ward, Mitchell, Hamilton, Holmes, Yates
Blackpool’s second-half XI: Grimshaw, Connolly, Casey, Husband, Garbutt, Stewart, Carey, Anderson, Bowler, Sarkic, Lavery
Referee: Oliver Yates
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