Donnelly's Side Beat Wigan 2-1Goals from Rowan Roache and Elliot Pond helped the youth team kick-off the new season with a 2-1 victory over Wigan Athletic on Saturday.
Now coached by Ciaran Donnelly and former Blackpool favourite John Murphy, The Seasiders scored seven minutes from time to seal all three points and get up and running in the North West Youth Alliance.
Blackpool initially took the lead inside three minutes when Roache, who is still at High School and highly regarded, made the most of gifted one-on-one opportunity to fire past the Wigan goalkeeper.
Wigan, who were runners up in the Youth Alliance last season, responded well and put Pool under pressure immediately from the restart. On 13 minutes they were level, a long, hopeful ball down the middle of the pitch caused confusion between defender Sam Roscoe and goalkeeper Jack Sims, allowing a Wigan striker to nick a touch on the ball only to be taken out by the onrushing Sims for a deserved penalty. The resulting penalty was converted and Wigan were back in the game.
The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern with Wigan pressing Blackpool and not allowing the young Seasiders to establish any rhythm to their passing game. When the whistle blew for half time Pool were happy to get in and regroup to get ready for the second-half.
The game didn’t let up second-half as both teams played with energy and enthusiasm, as you would expect in an opening game of the league campaign. After a few hefty challenges the game became a battle of wills and the Blackpool defence stood strong against tough Wigan pressure and the physical challenge presented.
With 10 minutes remaining the game seemed to die down a little as both teams seemed to run out of steam. Newly appointed skipper Macauley Wilson was one player worthy of mention as he marshalled the Pool defence the whole game and showed terrific composure in difficult circumstances.
On 83 minutes the game was decided by a moment of real quality. A throw in around the Wigan box saw Caleb Richards throw the ball into striker Elliot Pond, who chopped the ball inside and struck a terrific left foot shot into the far top corner of the goal. The Seasiders players celebrated with delight before recomposing themselves and seeing out the final seven minutes of pressure from long balls and set pieces thrown into the box.
"It was a massive test for the team as Wigan are without doubt going to be one of the teams challenging for the title again," Ciaran Donnelly said. "As a staff we are chuffed for the lads as they showed real mental strength to come through some difficult periods in the game and we had spoken a lot recently about the small margins that games like this are going to be decided on.
"I am delighted for Elliot getting the goal as his attitude all game was terrific, but I must stress it was a real team effort and hopefully this performance sets us on the way for another good season.
"The great thing for us staff now is that we can see the pathway for our players getting through, and I am looking forward to seeing who can join the likes of Bright Osayi-Samuel and Henry Cameron in the first-team this season. That is the challenge for the players but it is great for them knowing it is achievable should they perform to the standards we want."