Blackpool 1 - 1 FK Jelgava
July 28, 2011. 19:00
Blackpool drew 1-1 with FK Jelgava in their final home game of pre-season.
Despite the game being coined as a 'Blackpool XI' fixture, the starting line up was made up of a host of players pushing for first team places.
Noticeably Tom Ince was playing on the left wing after training with the Seasiders this week ahead of a move from Liverpool - a story we broke to you this afternoon.
He was joined by another newcomer - goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis - who is on trial with the club.
And the Pool got off to a brilliant start as they set a lively tempo. Angel Martinez was joined by Ludovic Sylvestre and Neal Eardley in midfield, with ball retention key.
That ball retention led to the opening goal on 11 minutes, with Ince finding Craig Sutherland who swivelled and placed his shot past the away goalkeeper with ease.
Sutherland - prior and after the goal - looked classy and intelligent on the ball whilst able to drop deep to dictate attacks, with Ince and other winger Billy Clarke tucking in to give the front three a different look.
All outfield players were keen to keep the ball short which saw Sylvestre flourish as he pinged the ball out wide at will throughout.
However, Jelgava drew level soon after. Vladislavs Koklovs (or 'that number 21 up front') seized on dreadful defensive play by Ashley Eastham to drive towards the box and rifle a left-footed shot past Bouzanis in goal, with the keeper having absolutely no chance.
Eastham was perhaps the only player tonight that didn't cover himself in glory - looking troubled by the Latvian forwards all evening.
That's how the game finished at 1-1, but the rest of the friendly played out interestingly - mainly to see how the new signings are shaping up before the new campaign. Matt Hill looks assured at the back but certainly won't trouble Baptiste, Evatt or Cathcart for a starting berth. Paul Bignot looked decent without pulling up any trees, however both players are key to the depth of the squad which will be needed in a 46-game season.
Bob Harris was superb at left back - especially on the ball as he sought to play the diagonal switch at will - which Clarke and Ince lapped up. Martinez looks good on the ball whilst being tough in the tackle and should provide good competition for the preferred central trio.
Sutherland is a real find, as mentioned above, and Ince - on first glance - seems to have enough about his game to be a hit on the left hand side of the front three.
However, the night belonged to Sylvestre. That lad can play, but it remains to be seen whether Ian Holloway will want to play him ahead of Keith Southern and in the same team as Barry Ferguson.
All in all, it was a good exercise and given the fact the squad is so big, was definitely needed to keep fitness at peak levels before the big kick off next Friday.