Five games, five wins, just one goal conceded and through to the next round of the FA Cup.
North End’s excellent start of the season continued with a comfortable victory over a Blackpool side struggling to deal with injuries and their own 100 per cent start to the season - four defeats in four games prior to this game, including a 1-0 reverse at Surrey Street just seven days earlier.
Chris Willcock took the opportunity to shuffle his pack, giving starts to squad members who hadn’t yet featured in the starting 11 thus far. That meant fans’ favourites Sam Hind, Martin Parker and Tom Bailey coming in.
North End made a bright start: Young’s header from a corner was blocked, Kelvin Lugsden flicked the ball wide, Chappell’s long shot was wide and Kieron Lugsden had the ball in the net, only to have the ball ruled offside. Then Steve Yarwood shot across the keeper forcing Caunce into a fine save.
Russell’s burst into the box was foiled by the keeper and Blackshaw also forced a decent save from Caunce, and it seemed just a matter of time before North End scored. AFC were relying on set pieces to launch any kind of attack, but the defence dealt with the pressure that they sometimes brought on themselves with fouls on half way.
The goal finally came on 41 minutes. The ball was played into the box from the left, and Hind nodded the ball down for Bailey, who shot over the bar but was cleaned out by Muscroft after the ball had gone. The referee had no choice but to award the spot kick and there was no argument, even from the Blackpool bench. Young stepped up, fresh from a penalty miss in mid-week, but made no mistake this time.
Two minutes later the lead was doubled, and this time is was a lovely team goal. Yarwood picked the ball up on the left and moved inside before releasing it to Kieron Lugsden. He in turn flicked it left to Matt Russell who delivered the perfect teasing cross for Hind to head home from six yards.
The second half was one-way traffic. Blackshaw’s free-kick forced another fine save from the keeper, as did Bailey with his swivelled shot. Substitute Moxam was put through one-on-one but the Caunce again saved well, tipping the ball wide after staying upright as long as possible. Carey too had a clear-cut chance, but having done everything right to create the opening, blasted over.
The day was finally sealed in injury time when Moxam beat the offside and latched on to Russell’s through ball. He advanced into the area, beat his man and finished with aplomb.
The victory sealed a trip to Yorkshire side Maltby Main, most likely on August 30.
The league campaign is the focus again prior to that, starting with a trip to West Didsbury & Chorlton on Tuesday evening.