After a five-month absence, Southport began pre-season by welcoming SkyBet League One side Blackpool to the Pure Stadium, the visitors showing their quality with a with a four-goal win in the sunshine.

The fixture saw the Port return to match action for the first time since the 7 March and the end of the Vanarama National League North following the outbreak of Covid-19.

Things were tight between the two teams in the early stages of the game, as both struggled to find an early breakthrough.

The first goal of the afternoon came in the 23rd minute, as Grant Ward’s powerful strike from the edge of the box took a slight deflection to take it past the reach of Dan Hanford and into the top corner.

Chances continued to be scarce throughout the first half, as Teddy Howe could only fire over the cross bar for the Tangerines as they searched for a second goal, whilst clear cut opportunities continued to evade the Port.

Three minutes before the half, Neil Critchley’s side came close again, as a shot from Matty Virtue was blocked just wide of the right post.

After the break, both sides made an overhaul of changes, as the managers looked to rebuild their players fitness.

Liam Watson gave run outs to a number of new players, as he switched to a less experienced side.

Blackpool had two chances within the first ten minutes of the restart, but neither troubled Hanford, with one easily saved and the other blocked.

After making a brighter start to the half, the visitors got their second goal of the afternoon, as Sullay Kaikai finished into an empty net three minute before the hour mark, after an initial effort by debutant Jerry Yates was saved.

Five minutes later, the visitors had another, as Keshi Anderson marked his first game the Seasiders with a goal to make it 0-3.

Blackpool continued to press as they looked for more, whilst the Port had a rare chance as Connor Woods blasted a free kick into the wall.

A fourth goal came for Blackpool in the the 75th minute, as they were awarded a penalty which Yates slotted a penalty past Hanford, who could do nothing despite diving the right way.

Despite starting pre-season with a defeat, Watson’s side will be pleased to have minutes under their belt and will look to build upon this result.