VERDICT: Blackpool pick up two wins from friendly double header
Blackpool were solid if not unspectacular in their first public friendlies of the summer in Saturday's double header.
The Seasiders edged out Northern Premier League Premier Division side Nantwich Town in their opening clash on Saturday lunchtime, before coming out on top in a more competitive affair against Port Vale later on in the day.
It was the latter game that was the main attraction, with Pool fielding a strong side against Neil Aspin’s men.
With Jonathan Disley, the businessman The Gazette identified last week to be the man in talks with Owen Oyston regarding a potential investment in the club, watching on from the stands - Pool were sturdy and defensively impressive as they gained the win courtesy of Nathan Delfouneso’s early effort.
Delfouneso's goal aside, there wasn't much to write home about but Pool defended well and took their chance clinically when it came their way.
Whereas at Nantwich, just five senior players were named in the squad alongside six unknown trialists - none of which really did enough to catch the eye - as the Seasiders overcame their non-league opponents.
It wasn’t a great affair at the Weaver Stadium, with genuine chances on goal at a premium.
But Pool were the better side and deserved their win, which perhaps should have been more comfortable than the scoreline suggested.
Mark Cullen got the Seasiders off to the perfect start when he nodded in from close range just three minutes into the tie, but Gary Bowyer’s men were pegged back in controversial circumstances not long after.
It appeared blatantly obvious that one of Blackpool’s trialist defenders was being held back in their own box, yet the referee disagreed - instead opting to award a penalty kick, much to the amusement of Bowyer who appealed for the decision to be referred to VAR.
The resulting spot kick was dispatched by James Lawrie as he sent Christoffer Mafoumbi the wrong way.
But the bizarre decision wasn’t to matter in the end, as the Seasiders still managed to claim the win courtesy of Marc Bola’s second-half effort.
The defender, playing in Blackpool colours for the first time since signing last week, lashed home from inside the penalty area after cleverly maneuvering some space for himself.
That proved to be that in what was a fairly drab affair low on genuine goalscoring chances.
That seemed to be theme of the day as Pool gained their second victory of the day at Port Vale in another game low on entertainment.
Delfouneso’s fifth-minute effort separated the sides, the forward ignoring the offside calls to coolly slot home after being sent through on goal.
The Valiants created two or three good chances in the first half but they were unable to find a way past Pool keeper Mark Howard.
Scott Quigley, on loan at Port Vale from Blackpool, seemed determined to score against his parent club but the quality just wasn't there in front of goal.
Curtis Tilt, the subject of increased transfer speculation, was outstanding at the back for Blackpool and a level above anyone else on the Vale Park pitch.
Jay Spearing also caught the eye with an all-action display in midfield, giving Pool fans hope he is set for an impressive campaign in what will be his first full season in tangerine.
Joe Dodoo showed glimpses of what he might be capable of in attack, while Michael Nottingham also impressed on the right wing after coming off the bench in the second half.
In truth, the Port Vale game was a bit of a non-event - especially the second half. The Blackpool fans were left to entertain themselves, with a handful of supporters opting to aim their tongue-in-cheek chants at Disley as he watched on alongside Oyston from the directors’ box.
Post-match, Gary Bowyer stressed the importance of coming through both games unscathed in terms of injuries.
Mark Cullen and Nathan Delfouneso picked up knocks having both fallen awkwardly, but the Pool boss was relieved to see neither were too serious.
Midfielder Jimmy Ryan didn't feature at Port Vale, missing out with a slight knock which Bowyer didn't want to risk, but he still took part in some fitness work on the pitch pre-match indicating he's not too far away from playing.
Pool now turn their focus to their first ever visit to AFC Fylde's Mill Farm on Tuesday night, before finishing their pre-season prepations with an away game at Crewe Alexandra next Saturday.
Blackpool XI vs Nantwich: Mafoumbi (Sims), Anderton, trialist, trialist, Bola, trialist (Sinclair-Smith), Pritchard, trialist (Clayton), trialist (Shaw), trialist, Cullen (Watkinson)
Blackpool XI vs Port Vale: Howard, Turton, Tilt, Heneghan, Bunney, Spearing, Taylor (Nottingham), Delfouneso (Thompson), O’Sullivan (O’Connor), Dodoo (McLaughlin), Gnanduillet (Sinclair-Smith)