Match report: AFC Blackpool 3 Abbey Hulton United 1

Billy McKenna scored the third goal for AFC Blackpool
Billy McKenna scored the third goal for AFC Blackpool

AFC Blackpool moved up to eighth in the North West Counties First Division table with a 3-1 victory against Abbey Hulton United.

A crowd of 253 on Non-League Day, with special guest Trevor Sinclair in attendance, saw them close to within two points of the play-off places.

Last time out AFC had lost 1-0 at unbeaten leaders Silsden and, with left-back Carnan Dawson injured at that game, Stephen Betteridge came into the starting line-up along with Zack Hargreaves, Alex Taylor and Conah Bishop.

It was the returning striker Taylor who gave the home side the lead after just five minutes.

From a short corner, Zack Hargreaves’ shot was blocked; Martin Baird laid it off to Danny Pickering whose low shot went past Abbey Hulton keeper Luke Birkenshaw.

The lead wasn’t to last, however, as Joshua Tune equalised in the 13th minute with the away side then having most of the ball for long periods.

However, towards the end of the half, they were reduced to 10 men, when Joshua Graham was shown a straight red card for elbowing Betteridge.

Despite being a man down, they still competed well as a scramble in the AFC goalmouth saw three players go down, resulting in Taylor getting a shoulder injury.

After a lengthy stoppage, he returned to the pitch, but was soon replaced by Ben Duffield.

In the second half, AFC started to control the game and after 65 minutes they took the lead again.

A reverse pass by Kit Gregory found Betteridge on the left wing and his low driven cross was turned in by Bishop.

Billy McKenna made it 3-1 in the 76th minute when he was put in by Gregory, and his low right foot shot went past Birkenshaw.

The mood in the dressing room after the game was buoyant with another three points moving AFC up two places in the table.