Blackpool’s Youth Alliance – North West league title hopes hang in the balance after a 2-1 defeat to Carlisle United on Wednesday.
A Dom Telford strike 12 minutes in looked to have sent the young Seasiders on their way to another victory at Squires Gate Training Ground.
However, after Conor Ready missed a penalty to double Pool’s lead, the Cumbrians overturned the contest in the second half with goals from Tom White and Danny Hodgson.
Richie Kyle’s side still have the title in their own hands but, after suffering their first league defeat of 2014, anything less than a win in both of their final two matches could see them lose out to second-placed Oldham Athletic.
Pool’s Head of Youth coaching named the same team which beat the Latics 4-3 in their last match, looking to move one step closer to league title success.
The Tangerines were due to face Carlisle in Cumbria on Tuesday but, for the second time, the scheduled fixture was called off.
However, the game went ahead at Squires Gate, and Pool took the lead after 12 minutes when Telford smashed a half-volley into the roof of the net from inside the penalty area, once Ready squared the ball from the left.
Striker George Lomax then nearly doubled Blackpool’s lead but he was denied by a low, fingertip save from Carlisle goalkeeper Danny Eccles after being threaded through by Telford.
And just three minutes later, approaching the half-hour mark, Ready was given the chance to fire the Seasiders into a two-goal cushion when he was tripped inside the penalty box.
However, the midfielder saw his spot-kick smash against the crossbar at the top-right corner.
Lomax also had another chance to score himself when he judged a defender’s backward header, but his soft, side-foot shot rolled comfortably towards Eccles minutes before the break.
HALF-TIME: BLACKPOOL 1-0 CARLISLE
Carlisle came out stronger after the interval and White went close to equalising three minutes into the second period, although he could only flick Connor Thomson’s low cross from the right wide of the far post.
Thomson was then fortunate at the other end when he turned Harrison McGahey’s header across goal into his own net, as he was saved by the offside flag.
Telford also fired just whiskers over the bar in Blackpool’s search for a second.
However, the Cumbrians levelled on the hour mark when Kyle Dempsey’s low cross from the right was swept into the far corner by White from inside the box.
The goal boosted Alan Moore’s side’s confidence, and they turned the game on its head four minutes later with Hodgson sliding the ball through the legs of Connor Hunt after latching onto a long ball upfield.
Blackpool never gave up on rescuing a point and Lomax forced a near-post save from Eccles before defender Joe Moulden glanced wide a header from the resulting corner by Henry Cameron.
Lomax also went clean through on the inside right with 15 minutes left but dinked the ball narrowly wide of Eccles’ far post when one on one.
It meant a first defeat of the calendar year for Pool and only their second in the league this season.
The Tangerines take on basement-side Morecambe at the training ground on Saturday before their final league fixture at home to Port Vale a week later.
There is also a Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup semi-final trip to Preston North End sandwiched in between next Wednesday (1pm kick-off),
FULL-TIME: BLACKPOOL 1-2 CARLISLE
BLACKPOOL: Hunt, Richardson, Moulden, McGahey, Higham, Cameron, Waddington, Staunton-Turner (c), Ready (Charles, 65), Telford, Lomax.
SUBS: Milton, Clayton, Shaw, Rowley, Charles.
BOOKED: Waddington, Charles.
CARLISLE: Eccles, Thomson, Chisholm, Dickson, Brough, White, Moyes, Hammell, Dempsey, Hodgson, Blackburn.
SUBS: Brass, Douglas, Elliot, Marshall, Wallace.
GOALS: White, Hodgson.