Blackpool were eliminated from the Carabao Cup at the first-round stage after losing on penalties to Stoke City.
Despite a terrific showing from Neil Critchley's side and some tremendous penalty shootout saves from Chris Maxwell, it wasn’t enough to spare the Seasiders defeat in their first competitive game of the season.
The game started in a relaxed fashion with neither side having the upper hand. The hosts were looking to get the ball down and play whilst the Seasiders were soaking it up and growing into the game by the minute.
Despite the hosts early possession, the first real chance of the game fell to Blackpool. CJ Hamilton received the ball out wide, he cut in from the left and shot towards Adam Davies’ near post, but he got down sharply to deny Hamilton.
After the Seasiders’ early scare, Stoke had a chance of their own. Nick Powell played a defence splitting pass into Lee Gregory, he turned and shot just wide of Chris Maxwell’s post.
The home side were probing. Benik Afobe beat Marvin Ekpiteta just outside the 18-yard box to cross towards Gregory in the middle. A mix up between Ollie Turton and Maxwell left the ball waiting for a tap-in, Gregory pounced, but Ekpiteta came from nowhere to make a last-ditch challenge to deny him.
As time went on the Seasiders were continuously growing into the game. First, Ethan Robson whipped an outstanding free kick towards Michael Nottingham at the back post, but the latter couldn’t quite wrap his foot around the ball to convert.
Then, CJ Hamilton headed Sullay Kaikai’s cross just over the bar before being denied again moments later, this time by Bruno Martins Indi on the line.
Just before the break James McClean found space in the area to unleash a shot towards goal, but his effort went just wide meaning the sides went in level at the break.
Half-time: Stoke City 0-0 Blackpool
Just like the first-half, the second started in the same way – quiet. The first real chance of the half came for Blackpool ten minutes into the half. Hamilton was brought down on the edge of the area by Jordan Thompson. Keshi Anderson lined the set-piece up but shot wide of the post.
Moments later, Grant Ward went close. Sullay Kaikai floated a great cross into the area only for Ward to head onto the roof of the net.
Again, Stoke were growing into the half. Sam Clucas went racing through on-goal and look destined to score, but James Husband was there to get his body in and deny the midfielder.
Despite the early chances, the game finished level meaning penalties were to follow.
James McClean stepped up first for Stoke but was denied by Maxwell. It was then Oliver Sarkic’s turn to take to the spot only for Davies to save his penalty kick.
Tyrese Campbell tucked his penalty away before Hamilton thumped his into the back of the net.
Stoke took the lead in the shootout after Clucas tucked his penalty into the bottom corner. Keshi Anderson was next up, but he was kept out by Davies.
The shootout was then level after Maxwell saved and Ethan Robson scored.
Steven Fletcher, Kaikai, Bruno Martins Indi, James Husband and Tashan Oakley-Boothe converted their spot kicks to take the tie to 5-4. Ollie Turton then stepped up, but he sent his penalty wide of the goal.
Full-time: Stoke City 0-0 Blackpool
Blackpool: Maxwell, Turton, Ekpiteta, Nottingham (Thorniley 72), Husband, Robson, Ward (Virtue 72), Anderson, Hamilton, Kaikai, Yates (Sarkic 82).
Unused subs: Sims, Madine, Shaw, Antwi.