Blackpool’s youth team reached the semi-finals of the Youth Alliance Cup’s Northern Section on Saturday after coming from behind to beat Morecambe on penalties.
The young Seasiders looked to be heading out when Tom Woods struck for The Shrimps in the second-half, but Pool equalised with a diving header from Joe Moulden to take the game to spot-kicks.
Goalkeeper Daniel Milton, making his first competitive start for Richie Kyle’s side this season, then saved twice in the shootout before Kieran Shaw fired The Tangerines through with the winning kick.
The game took place on a wet and windy morning at Morecambe and Lancaster College, and was played on one of the North West league’s worst pitches.
Pool ringed the changes before kick-off with regulars Connor Hunt, Henry Cameron and George Lomax all starting from the bench, as Milton, Ashley Rowley and Dom Telford came into the starting line-up.
However, it was Morecambe – bottom of the North West table – who made the brighter start when Daniel Dunleavy crossed low from the right, with Woods collecting the ball before seeing his fierce drive in the box punched away by Milton.
Pool struggled to utilise their usual passing game on the sticky pitch, with Morecambe appearing the more settled in the opening stages as Woods then went around two defenders before his shot was blocked by Moulden.
But the young Seasiders soon began to stamp their own authority on the game, with Dion Charles in the thick of things.
The winger hit a low drive at Shrimps goalkeeper Will Kitchen from long range before his corner moments later, which was initially cleared, dropped to Rowley, whose strike from the edge of the box smashed the crossbar at the top-right corner.
Charles then went on a surging run down the inside right channel before crossing for Telford, who had attacked the near post, but the striker’s glancing header went wide of the right moments before the break.
Half-time: Morecambe 0-0 Blackpool
Kyle brought on the in-form Lomax for Telford during the interval, and it nearly proved an effective substitute when Kitchen had to punch an effort from Lomax around his right post.
However, the home side went close when Woods curled a free kick wide of the right post, before the striker eventually did fire The Shrimps in front.
Woods took two attempts to convert after his first strike from the right was punched away by Milton, but the striker smashed his second effort past the helpless Pool keeper on the hour mark.
It looked to be the end of The Tangerines’ Youth Alliance Cup hopes, and the end of their long winning streak which recently included at 7-1 win at Morecambe in the league.
Blackpool never gave up, however, and got their reward with 20 minutes left, when Conor Ready’s free kick from the right was met by the head of Moulden in the box, with the defender looping his effort, when leaning backwards, over Kitchen to equalise.
There was still time for The Seasiders to find a winner before the end, although they were grateful for Milton’s alertness when the Canadian came off his line to smother at the feet of Woods, with the game then going to penalties.
Full-time: Morecambe 1-1 Blackpool
From the resulting shootout, Milton dived to save Alex Naylor’s opening spot-kick before Charles fired The Tangerines ahead.
Woods and captain Sam Staunton-Turner then converted their penalties for either side before Milton saved once again, this time from Alex Newby.
Ready tucked away Pool’s third penalty before Jay Roberts pulled it back to 3-2, but Shaw sent Kitchen the wrong way to fire Pool into the semi-finals of the Northern Section.
Final score: Morecambe 1-1 Blackpool (4-2 Blackpool on pens)
BLACKPOOL TEAM: Milton; Richardson, Staunton-Turner (c), Moulden, Clayton (Higham, 62); Shaw, Waddington, Ready; Charles, Rowley (Cameron, 55), Charles, Telford (Lomax, 45)
SUBS: Hunt, Thurston, Higham, Cameron, Lomax
BOOKED: Shaw, Clayton
MORECAMBE TEAM: Kitchen; McGowan (c), Lewis, Bowman, Smith; Dunleavy, Roberts, Bailey, Newby; Naylor, Woods
SUBS: Newton, Stewart, Reynolds, Preston, Hilton