Fleetwood Town 1 Blackpool 5: Phillips hat-trick settles Fylde coast derby
Matty Phillips struck his second hat-trick in four games to shatter Blue Square Premier Fleetwood's hopes of pulling off an FA Cup upset over near neighbours Blackpool at windy Highbury Stadium.
The 20-year-old, who has now scored seven in four after returning from a successful loan spell at Sheffield United earlier this season, seized control late on after Micky Mellon's men had briefly threatened to make the headlines.
The non-league side were desperately unlucky not to reach half-time on level terms after dominating much of the first period and being denied by four superb saves by stand-in Blackpool keeper Mark Howard.
Hat-trick hero: Phillips (second left) is mobbed by his team-mates
Fleetwood Town: Davies, Beeley, McNulty, Pond, Brown, Till, McGuire, Milligan (Clancy 82), Cavanagh, Mangan, Vardy. Subs not used: Stephenson, Vieira, Goodall, Briggs, Seddon, Charnock.
Goal: Vardy 70.
Blackpool: Howard, Eardley, Baptiste, Wilson, Harris, Angel (Kevin Phillips 84), Basham, Sylvestre, Matt Phillips, LuaLua (Taylor-Fletcher 82), Ince. Subs not used: Halstead, Evatt, Grandin, Hill, Cathcart.
Goals: LuaLua 24, M Phillips 47, 77, 81, Ince 55.
Referee: Dean Whitestone.
And Blackpool also had to thank Howard
for another fine stop in the second half after Fleetwood hot shot Jamie
Vardy reduced the deficit and threatened to make it an anxious last half
hour for Ian Holloway's men.
Holloway had made his intentions clear by making only four changes for
his side's journey eight miles up the Fylde coast tram tracks to face a
Fleetwood side whose main goal this season is promotion to the Football
The visitors soon settled in their cramped surroundings, Phillips
forcing a save out of Fleetwood keeper Scott Davies in the 18th minute
before the hugely impressive Vardy headed just over from a Peter Till
Blackpool responded by snatching the lead in the 24th minute when Lomana
Lua Lua latched onto a through-ball from Bob Harris before chipping a
delightful opener over advancing keeper Davies.
But if the opener was designed to quash Fleetwood's enthusiasm for an FA
Cup upset it had the opposite effect as the home side poured forward
and could count themselves desperately unfortunate not to claw back
Head over heels: Lomana LuaLua celebrates scoring the game's opening goal
Tangerines keeper Howard pulled off a superb double save in the 27th
minute to deny first Vardy, who had drilled a low shot goalwards, and
Till whose header from the rebound was tipped over the bar.
And five minutes later Howard pulled off more heroics when he parried a
drive from Andrew Mangan before clinging onto a deflected shot from
Vardy from the resulting corner.
Mutual respect: Ian Holloway and Fleetwood boss Micky Mellon (right) embrace before the game
Blackpool almost stretched their lead in first-half injury-time when a
shot from Tom Ince was parried by Davies, and Phillips' follow-up was
blocked by Fleetwood captain Steve McNulty.
Phillips' curling effort into the top corner inside two minutes of the
restart appeared to have killed off Fleetwood's hopes of the second half
revival, but Mellon's men kept pressing and Varney flashed a header
onto the roof of the net.
Consolation: Jamie Vardy scored for Fleetwood
Ince swept home Blackpool's third from a right-wing cross by Neil
Eardley in the 55th minute but the hosts were still not spent and got
their reward in the 70th minute when the dangerous Varney fired home.
The striker, whose 15 goals in 17 games to date this season have had
some of Blackpool's Championship rivals interested, stole into the left
side of the box and struck low past Howard.
I'll be having that: Phillips celebrates his third (above) then helps himself to the matchball after the game
Vardy briefly threatened to haul Fleetwood back into the game with
another swinging left-foot effort from a Mangan corner two minutes
later, which Howard once again saved superbly.
Phillips hit the post from long range in the 75th minute before wrapping
the game up with a late solo show, knocking in his second on 77 after
Lua Lua's initial effort was blocked, and completing his hat-trick nine
minutes from time.
Interested spectator: Ex-Blackpool captain Charlie Adam was at Highbury Stadium