Youth Team Report: Rochdale 1 Blackpool 1
The under-18s earned a point on the road on Saturday morning, as they drew 1-1 with Rochdale A.F.C in the North West Youth Alliance.
James Harrison put the young Seasiders ahead five minutes before the interval with a well-taken finish before Peter Thomas equalised ten minutes from time.
Several first-year scholars came into the starting XI for the fixture, with Jake Daniels and Zack Littler being handed their first starts in the Youth Alliance. Sky Sinclair slotted in at the back due.
It was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides, passing the ball around, though they created nothing in front of goal.
The first real sight on goal came from the young Seasiders. Luke Mariette won the ball back high up but was brought down just outside the 18-yard box seconds later. Jack Moore lined the set-piece up but struck the wall with his effort.
Blackpool started to grow into the game from then with James Harrison going close with a header from a Moore corner, but he headed wide.
Mariette pressed superbly all morning, and his hard work paid off when he won the ball back and looked to square it to Arnold Matshazi, though the striker couldn’t quite get a strong enough connection on his strike to trouble Kelly.
The deadlock looked to have been broken when Jake Daniels raced through on goal after a superb Prince Yelegon flick on, but he managed to squeeze his strike just wide of the post.
Then, the breakthrough came after a quick break from a Rochdale corner left Matshazi and Harrison free on the halfway line. Matshazi played Harrison in, who raced forward and slotted past Kelly.
Half-Time: Rochdale A.F.C 0 Blackpool 1
It didn’t take long after the break for the young Seasiders to find their rhythm again, as Matshazi did superbly to spin off his man and win a free-kick just outside the area. He picked himself up and wrapped a strike towards the top corner, but Kelly stood firm and collected well.
Ten minutes later, Blackpool had a chance to double their lead when Prince Yelegon breezed past his man and was brought down inside the area. The striker took ownership and claimed the penalty kick, though Kelly denied him with a save to his right.
Rochdale started to grow into the game as the final 20 minutes approached through Paul Kyffin, with the midfielder hitting a rasper of a shot towards goal, but standing in the way was Luke Byron, who blocked the fierce effort.
Just eight minutes later, Rochdale found an equaliser after a good bit of passing play between Zak Greenwell and Peter Thomas allowed the latter to poke an effort under Alec McLachlan and into the net.
McLachlan was then called into action just minutes later when he had to get down quickly to a Ben Kershaw free-kick.
The Seasiders had one last roll of the dice as Dannen Francis danced his way around several Rochdale shirts and tried bending strike in at the far post, though his effort went inches wide.
Full-Time: Rochdale A.F.C. 1 Blackpool 1
Blackpool: McLachlan, Moore (62’ Donkor), D’Souza, Littler, Sinclair, Fitzgerald, Daniels, Mariette (62’ Byron), Yelegon, Matshazi (62’ Johnston), Harrison (62’ Johnston).
Unused subs: Cunningham.