3-2 Victory After Extra TimeBlackpool Under-12 Girls reached a Cup Final over the weekend, knocking out AFC Manchester 3-2 in extra time.
Two goals from Imogen Hill, one being the winner, helped setup a date against Euxton Girls at Burscough FC on Tuesday 1 April.
Beaten heavily by table-toppers AFC Manchester earlier in the season, manager Mac Barlow had to be tactically spot-on with her game plan, while the girls had to play at their very best.
AFC applied the early pressure, though Pool's defence held firm prior to taking the lead. Laura Burnell pushed forward and made a telling pass to Imogen Hill, who ran with the ball and then slotted in with just four minutes on the clock. Hill then shot wide straight after the restart following a fine through ball from Aimee Chen.
AFC started to get back into the game after the opening exchanges and applied a period of sustained pressure. The Seasiders' defence remained resilient again though, Katie O’Donnell making some outstanding interceptions and telling passes, supported by Maisie Rodgers in the left-back role and reliable Aleysha Montgomery on the right.
A couple of AFC counter attacks prior to half-time eventually resulted in an equaliser just before the whistle.
Half Time: Blackpool 1 AFC 1
AFC start the second-half straight on the attack, however a tactical change from Blackpool sees Minnie Rodgers join Hill up front to make the most of any quick counters. Darcy Barratt was also brought on to shore up a midfield that was overrun in the previous encounter.
It was the two subs who eventually combined to help put Blackpool back in front. Minnie Rodgers found Barratt with a pass, who then in turn played Slater in space to smash a 25-yard shot past the AFC’s keeper to make it 2-1.
Another Blackpool counter results in a penalty being given but despite being struck well, the ball goes wide of the goal.
The attacking play from AFC finally pays dividends and an equaliser is found just before the final whistle is blown.
Full-Time: Blackpool 2 AFC 2
The dramatic semi-final now went to extra time, with both teams understandably tiring. Keen to avoid penalties, Blackpool dug deep and had to rely on some big saves and resilient defending to keep AFC out. But there was still enough attacking play to try and find a winner, which eventually came from Hill with a superb finish to send the girls through to the final.
AET: Blackpool 3 AFC 2
Well done girls!!! Testament to manager Mac Barlow, the girls were first class and every player made a big impression. There were some absolutely outstanding performances throughout the team, which will hopefully now be taken into the final.
Mac Barlow added:
"A fantastic semi final and credit must go to the players who worked so hard for this. We are very impressive when we attack and needed to improve defensively and not give them time to play. The players showed what they're capable of achieving, when you have so much determination, passion, desire and the will to win you’ll get your rewards. To beat a team who have been unbeaten all season is fantastic and our place in the final was thoroughly deserved. Third time lucky in a final, I hope."