John Murphy stressed the importance of belief following his side’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal in their FA Youth Cup semi-final, first leg at Bloomfield Road last night.
The Seasiders’ Professional Development Phase Coach watched on from the sidelines as his players went toe-to-toe with The Gunners, having initially started on the back foot.
Once the initial aura of facing Arsenal faded, confidence started to flow and the under-18s played their natural game.
“I think it’s a mentality thing. We’re playing against higher clubs and they’ve got a lot of possession and the natural thing to do when you win it back is to panic. I think we did that a little bit,” Murphy admitted.
“Similar to West Ham and similar to Southampton, we grew in to the game and started to show more composure. We got it, started to pass and got the crowd on their feet. They worked it out for themselves again and started to believe that they could play against these, so-called, superstars if you like. At Arsenal they probably are little superstars in the making.
“But It was an unbelievable effort and performance again, and it’s good that we go to The Emirates still in the tie. We’ll go and enjoy it again.”
It took equalisers from Dylan Sumner and Ben Jacobson to put Blackpool on level terms ahead of the second leg, though it could have been a different story altogether in the second-half.
“There was a period in the second-half where I thought we would have been good value for the lead. I think we had them, we had a couple of chances and were on the front foot,” Murphy said.
“We looked the stronger team and the team most likely to score. Then, all of a sudden, it goes 2-1 and the next thing is the penalty. I’m looking round and saying ‘that’s football’ because as well as we’ve done, it can be taken away from you so quickly.
“Credit to the analyst and credit to Craig because we watched one of their penalties on a video and they go straight down the middle. The ‘keeper has got to show bravery because if he puts it in the corner, then you look a fool. He’s shown brilliant bravery and kept us in the game.”
The reverse fixture will now take place at Arsenal on Monday 16 April, with Blackpool set to welcome Rowan Roache back from international duty.
“We’ve shown we’re not a one-man team, even though Rowan makes a massive difference in terms of the quality that he’s got. We’ll be able to add him to the mix for the second leg, but I’m told Arsenal were missing a few as well. Even so, we’ll got there and give it another go,” he added.