Clarke-Harris hits hat-trick as Rovers win in style
March 3, 2019
Things got off to great start inside 10 minutes when Clarke-Harris helped himself to an easy finish, before doubling his tally later in the first half with a powerful finish inside the area.
The frontman then added further gloss to the result after the break, as he completed his hat-trick with another close-range finish right in front of the ecstatic Thatchers End.
If that wasn’t enough for Rovers fans, in the final minute Liam Sercombe swept home past the keeper from 10-yards out to round off a brilliant result and performance.
Rovers made three changes from Sunderland ahead of the game as Ed Upson, Joe Partington and Tom Nichols all came into the starting XI, replacing James Clarke, Alex Rodman and Gavin Reilly.
The visitors had an early chance when Nathan Delfuenso hung up a useful cross to the back post that was met by the opposite winger Harry Pritchard who headed the ball cleanly but just wide of the post.
Rovers then had their first chance of the game moments later, however unlike Blackpool, they took it.
Tom Nichols latched onto a ball just on the edge of the area which he controlled well and laid off right to an unmarked Ollie Clarke. The midfielder looked to cut it back to Nichols but a Blackpool leg took it out of his path but kindly into Jonson Clarke-Harris’, who helped himself to a tap in.
It could have been two shortly after but for some excellent goalkeeping by Mark Howard, who did really well to claw away Liam Sercombe’s sweetly hit back-post volley.
The Seasiders had a second opportunity in front of goal, as the ball dropped kindly 10 yards out for Jordan Thompson who was on the swivel, but he lifted his shot high over the bar.
Clarke-Harris was proving a real handful in the air for the Blackpool defence and almost found Nichols with a flick on into the box but it was just a tad overhit as the keeper collected.
Rovers were knocking the ball around nicely as the visitors looked to press for the ball, with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis getting in down the left and firing a low ball in which made its way out to Abu Ogogo who struck for goal but saw his effort blocked.
Clarke-Harris very nearly netted his second of the game, coming off the right side and bending a curling effort towards the far post and misses by just a whisker.
Rovers’ newest frontman was putting in a fine performance and it went from good to better with little under 10 minutes of the half remaining, as he doubled his and The Gas’ tally.
A lovely flowing move down the left saw Sercombe play a give and go with Clarke-Harris before firing it in the feet of O.Clarke who had his back to goal. He worked a yard and played one round the corner for Clarke-Harris who advanced on goal before driving a great finish beyond the keeper, as Rovers went into the break with a two-goal cushion.
Graham Coughlan’s men showed no signs of slowing down after the interval, with Sercombe having an early chance as he saw his curled effort from the edge of the area well saved.
However in need of a goal, Blackpool looked to get forward and Armand Gnanduillet forced a good stop low to his right from Jack Bonham with a decent header.
The on-loan stopper was called into action again, this time parrying Thompson’s long-range shot round the post.
Nichols had put in an energetic and selfless performance up front alongside Clarke-Harris, but went close himself when Sercombe pinched the ball off Curtis Tilt 25 yards out before playing in Nichols, who shot first time and saw his effort whizz just over the crossbar.
With a little over 20 minutes left, the moment every Gashead had been waiting for happened, as Clarke-Harris sealed his hat-trick.
Sercombe picked out lone O.Clarke in the box with a lovely cross, the midfielder fizzed a fierce volley at goal which was superbly saved by Howard, but the stopper couldn’t take it out of the path of Clarke-Harris who swept home from close in.
Unfortunately, the striker hurt himself in the process and had to be replaced by Alex Jakubiak – the Mem stood to applaud their hat-trick hero as he departed the pitch.
Rovers then lost their other forward to injury, although it didn’t seem too serious, as Nichols had to make way for Gavin Reilly.
To their credit, despite trailing by three goals Blackpool continued to play forward and demanded two superb blocks in the penalty area from skipper Tom Lockyer.
Inside the closing 10 minutes, Coughlan made his final switch as Stuart Sinclair entered the fold in place of O.Clarke.
As we entered the final minute, Rovers weren’t finished at three, with Jakubiak spotting a completely free Sercombe in the box before clipping a perfect pass into the midfielder, who controlled and calmly slotted past the keeper to conclude a great afternoon at the Mem.
Rovers XI: Jack Bonham, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Tom Lockyer (C), Tony Craig, Joe Partington, Abu Ogogo, Ed Upson, Ollie Clarke (Stuart Sinclair, 83′), Liam Sercombe, Tom Nichols (Gavin Reilly, 75′), Jonson Clarke-Harris (Alex Jakubiak, 73′).
Unused Subs: Adam Smith, James Clarke, Sam Matthews, Michael Kelly.
Blackpool XI: Mark Howard, Donervon Daniels, Nick Anderton (Matty Virtue, 45′), Ben Heneghan, Nathan Deflouneso, Jay Spearing (C), Harry Pritchard (Joe Dodoo, 66′), Jordan Thompson, Curtis Tilt, Ollie Turton, Armand Gnanduillet.
Unused Subs: Myles Boney, Anthony Evans, Michael Nottingham, Curtis Taylor, Liam Feeney.
Attendance: 8,496 (391 away).