Seasiders Lose Out In Extra TimeKyle McFarlane's extra-time goal sealed a 2-1 win for Birmingham City and ended Blackpool's FA Youth Cup hopes at Bloomfield Road.
In a closely contested fourth round cup-tie, a scrappy own goal had drawn The Seasiders level with 12 minutes to play after Sam Deadfield had given Birmingham the lead inside the opening six minutes in treacherous conditions.
Richie Kyle's side will feel slightly hard-done by to have lost the game having seen the majority of the ball, but a flurry of missed chances cost 'Pool dear. The away side will now face a trip to either Liverpool or Derby County in the next round of the competition.
The Youth Team welcomed back Mark Waddington, Dom Telford and Henry Cameron following their stints with Lee Clark's first-team, who were all in attendance to watch the stars of tomorrow.
Kyle's side like to get the ball down and play, but conditions made that difficult so it took The Seasiders a while to get going, with Birmingham having the better of the opening exchanges.
First, a 20-yard drive was pushed onto the bar by 'Pool keeper Daniel Milton; from the following corner, the game had it's opening goal. A squared pass found Sam Deadfield on the edge of the area, his shot found the bottom corner via a deflection to give the visitors a dream start.
Blackpool's youngsters were struggling, and Popa nearly doubled the away sides' lead. Finding space down the right, he cut inside and flashed a shot just wide of Milton's far post.
Slowly but surely Blackpool were coming back into the game, with Joe Moulden and Henry Cameron's both seeing chances drop wide.
By now the tempo of the game was set, Blackpool with the possession and the away side looking dangerous on the counter-attack. First O'Neill found himself with too much space but his shot cleared Milton's bar before Popa found himself through on goal, only for the Canadian goalkeeper to deny him and keep the home side in the game.
That save proved a kiss of life for the young men in tangerine, Birmingham were pushed deeper and deeper as they looked to hold their lead until half-time. Fresh from signing his first professional deal, Cameron charged down the right wing and found Telford in the box, who beat his man with a drop of a shoulder before unleashing a shot which the keeper palmed away from the top corner on 44 minutes.
Into the second half, and it was Cameron again getting joy down the right, leaving the left-back in his tracks before shooting over with the goalkeeper beaten. But the visitors still looked dangerous on the break, this time Dunbar found too much space in the box, but Milton produced a fine save to deny him.
Back came Blackpool, Telford this time testing the goalkeeper with a fierce free-kick before Elliot Pond was denied by some last-ditch tackling from the Birmingham defence.
With time ticking away, it was looking like it would never go in for The Seasiders but on 78 minutes the Birmingham defence finally gave way. A Cameron corner was delivered into the six-yard box, and the ball found its way over the line via an own-goal to warm up the small section of home fans behind the dug-outs and set up a grand-stand finish.
Blackpool now started to push for a winner, with the visitors sitting deep for the next 10 minutes. If anyone was to win it in 90 minutes it was to be the home side.
The impressive Bright Samuel took it upon himself to try and win the game. In the 91st minute he charged down the left, beating his man with raw pace but shot over when Telford was better placed. That prompted the full-time whistle, with the visitors on the ropes.
Into extra-time and both sides looked tired, there was little in the way of chances bar a flurry of Birmingham corners. It looked like both sides had accepted penalties before Kyle McFarlane latched onto a loose ball, cutting through the home defence and seeing his effort looping into the far corner of the net, sending the away bench into delirium.
Moments later he nearly made it three, but for a fantastic save by Milton before the Canadian produced another save to deny Bailey.
Time was running out as the home side tried desperately to level things up, with two minutes to go a free-kick from 30 yards out had Henry Cameron's name written all over it. His thunderous effort looked destined for the back of the net but it cannoned back off the crossbar with the away side shell-shocked. It was some hit by the young attacker, and left Kyle and his staff clutching their heads.
At full-time the Blackpool players dropped to their knees, the effort and commitment shown by them will have impressed the on-looking Lee Clark but this was Birmingham's night. For Blackpool, it was a case of 'what might have been'.