John Herron came off the bench to breathe new life into Blackpool, who won their first EFL Cup tie since 2009 by seeing off Bolton Wanderers in a six-goal thriller. The midfielder only played 15 minutes of the dramatic cup tie, but set up Blackpool’s third and scored a sumptuous fourth in extra time to put The Seasiders through.
The League One visitors had led in the first-half thanks to Jamie Proctor’s header, but quick-fire strikes from Kelvin Mellor and Brad Potts had Pool in the driving seat late in the second-half. However, a defensive error allowed Kaiyne Woolery to force an extra 30 minutes.
From there it was the hosts who found a new lease of life and Herron set up Jim McAlister to fire his first goal for the club. The former Celtic man sealed the win himself, clipping home a fabulous fourth to send his side through the next round.
The opening quarter of an hour brought little in the way of chances, with Jamille Matt being thwarted prior to the offside flag going up. The striker had been attempting to run off a knock picked up in a challenge with Laurie Wilson, but Matt was subsequently substituted after that.
That meant Potts came off the bench to work behind Mark Cullen and the latter was involved soon after, testing Ben Amos from outside of the area. Bolton’s first threat came from the imposing figure of Liam Trotter, whose deflected effort was dealt with by Sam Slocombe.
The much-changed Seasiders were competing well and Mark Yeates was next to be denied by a simple Amos save. At the other end, Blackpool were let off the hook when Colin Daniel denied Mark Beevers on the line and Proctor headed the rebound onto the bar.
As the fourth official board went up for two added minutes, Yeates showed good craft to fashion an opening for Cullen, who headed narrowly over. However, on the stroke of half-time Bolton took the lead as Trotter’s devilish cross was turned in by the head of Proctor.
Half-Time: Blackpool 0 Bolton 1
After that Bolton were looking the better side and Proctor nodded down for Trotter to volley at Slocombe. Substitute Gary Madine was next to come close, but Will Aimson denied him a shot at goal.
As for Blackpool, Yeates had a free-kick turned behind by Amos and Clark Robertson kept the score at 1-0 at the other end, throwing his body in the way of Madine’s goal bound effort.
Despite the visitors enjoying the lion’s share of the possession after the break, Blackpool found an equaliser 74 minutes in as Daniel’s deep cross was fired home by fellow wing back Mellor for his first for the club.
Their tails were well and truly up and Cullen shot at Amos moments later, and before you knew it Pool were in front. Michael Cain’s corner was flicked on to Potts at the back post and the midfielder rifled into the roof of the net for 2-1.
Then came the Bolton siege and after Alex Finney’s header came back off the post, Madine blocked an effort from his own team mate, Chris Taylor. However, they eventually levelled two minutes into injury time, as Woolery punished Aimson for his error by rounding Slocombe and forcing extra time.
Full Time: Blackpool 2 Bolton 2
Extra time began with Blackpool on the front foot once more, with Henry Cameron, who’d replaced Cullen, almost finding McAlister, but the ball was slightly behind the midfielder. As half-time of extra time approached Taylor wasted a good chance for a Bolton third, blazing over the bar.
Half-Time Extra Time: Blackpool 2 Bolton 2
Gary Bowyer used his final substitution on Herron, who took the place of Yeates and the midfielder played a starring role in the final 15 minutes. Fed by Mellor, Herron skipped through and unselfishly squared for McAlister to roll home his first goal for the club in what was his 48th game in tangerine.
The substitution proved inspiration from Bowyer, as Potts broke with the ball and slipped in Herron. Playing with supreme confident, Herron clipped the ball over Amos and into the top corner from all of 25 yards to cap a brilliant evening of football at Bloomfield Road.
Full-Time: Blackpool 4 Bolton 2