Three goals in 25 first-half minutes helped Blackpool progress to the second round of the Emirates FA Cup, despite a late rally from Exeter City in a 3-2 victory.
Goals from Joe Dodoo, Mark Cullen and Harry Pritchard saw the team race into a three-goal lead, however a penalty rebound from Jordan Tillson and a strike from Tristan Abrahams set up a tense finish at St James’ Park.
Manager Terry McPhillips made five changes for the tie, with Ryan McLaughlin, Jordan Thompson, John O’Sullivan, Harry Pritchard and Joe Dodoo all starting.
It was three of those players who combined to get Blackpool off to a great start to the tie after just 90 seconds. A great diagonal ball from Ben Heneghan found Pritchard out wide, who in turn sent a deep cross to the back post where O’Sullivan headed back across goal for Joe Dodoo to nod in.
Jonathan Forte, aiming to find an instant response from the hosts, almost had an opportunity to do so soon after, however Christoffer Mafoumbi denied him inside the box.
It proved to be an important save, as Blackpool doubled their advantage at the other end of the pitch four minutes later. Mark Cullen was the man who claimed the goal, having challenged for a header in a packed penalty area. The striker quickly raised his hand in the air and wheeled away in celebration as the ball crossed the line.
Before reaching the 25-minute mark, Harry Pritchard slid in to put Pool three goals to the good, converting after Joe Dodoo had fired across the six-yard box.
The energy in the Blackpool midfield was helping the team really set a tempo, while the front two continued to interchange and stretch the Exeter back four.
The home side did have an opportunity to try and reduce the deficit prior to half-time, however Luke Croll’s header deflected wide.
Half-Time: Exeter City 0 Blackpool 3
After an initial couple of minutes where Exeter came back out on the front foot, The Seasiders twice went close to scoring a fourth through Callum Guy. The midfielder was denied by ‘keeper James Hamon on both occasions, with his second save in particular a spectacular one.
A free-kick conceded by Curtis Tilt provided Exeter with a good opportunity as the hour mark approached, but Christoffer Mafoumbi managed to scamper across goal and push away Nicky Law’s strike.
Jayden Stockley sent a header over the Blackpool bar as the home side continued to try and find a way back into the tie.
A lifeline then came when Exeter were awarded a penalty after Ryan McLaughlin had tripped Archie Collins in the area. Pierce Sweeney saw his spot-kick saved by Christoffer Mafoumbi, however Jordan Tillson was first to react and tuck in the rebound.
Michael Nottingham, on as a substitute, made a superb last-ditch challenge to prevent Exeter another chance on goal, despite the crowd appealing for another penalty.
Jayden Stockley registered another attempt straight at Mafoumbi, before the hosts pulled another goal back.
This time it was a poor attempted clearance from Curtis Tilt that was pounced upon by Tristan Abrahams, who managed to spin and find the back of the net.
It set up a tense finish to the match with four additional minutes added, however Blackpool held out to book a place in Monday’s second round draw.
Full-Time: Exeter City 2 Blackpool 3