Blackpool bowed out of the FA Youth Cup with their heads held high on a memorable evening at Bloomfield Road.
The Seasiders twice came from behind with goals from Conor Ready and Sam Staunton-Turner against Liverpool, before going ahead courtesy of a sensational Dom Telford chip in extra time.
But it wasn’t to be and Ryan Crump’s save from defender Joe Moulden in the shoot-out eventually won it for Liverpool.
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of spending the morning with Blackpool’s youth team during their preparations for last night’s game.
Boss Richie Kyle sat his young squad down to hammer home the point that there was no pressure on his side.
And when you look at the difference between the two academy set-ups, you quickly see why.
Liverpool have spent more building their academy complex than the Seasiders have ever spent on players for their first team.
Winger Jordan Ibe is a regular in the first team squad at Anfield and they even had a full Wales international, Harry Wilson, on the bench.
But there’s no substitute for heart and determination– and that’s what Blackpool have in abundance.
And last night they took their Premier League opponents to penalties with a sensational display.
It would be unfair to pick anyone out, as every single player in tangerine did their club proud.
The conditions at Bloomfield Road were just about as bad as it gets as the wind and rain battered down.
But the on-field action was enough to warm the 1,000-strong crowd.
Liverpool started the brighter of the two sides and had plenty of possession.
Ibe on the right wing was the undoubted star of the show and on 22 minutes opened the scoring.
He cut in from the right-hand side before dancing into the box and round Pool keeper Connor Hunt.
It was a deserved goal, but Blackpool responded in the perfect fashion and with a moment Conor Ready will never forget.
The Liverpool born midfielder picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and curled a stunner into the top corner.
The goal settled Blackpool, who grew in composure as the half went on.
Despite the difference in leagues, only winger Ibe, a constant threat, was the difference between the two sides.
The start of the second half was met with monsoon type rain, but it was the home side who began the brightest.
However, only six minutes in and Ibe was at it again.
This time he ran onto a perfect pass from Jordan Rossiter before firing calmly past Hunt to restore Liverpool’s lead.
At this point there was a fear the young Seasiders would fold, but Kyle’s men showed real character.
And on 65 minutes they got the equaliser they deserved.
Luke Higham whipped a corner into the near post, keeper Ryan Crump flapped and the ball fell to Sam Staunton-Turner, who buried the chance from five yards.
The Seasiders finished the strongest, and as the game went into extra time a moment of sheer class put Blackpool ahead.
Substitute Telford picked up the ball and spotted the Liverpool keeper off his line before chipping into the net from 45 yards.
It was a stunning finish worthy of winning any game.
Sadly it wasn’t going to be.
As the game got stretched, Liverpool substitute Kieran Shaw turned in space and fired home from 20 yards.
It took a shoot-out to decided the tie, with Ready, Harrison McGahey and Staunton-Turner scoring for Pool.
Only for missed efforts from Joe Moulden, Connor Thurston and Telford to cost them dearly.
In the end it wasn’t to be for the Seasiders, but it was an evening which will do wonders for their confidence.
Under the eyes of the watching Paul Ince the young stars have done themselves no harm. I doubt it’s the last we’ll hear of some of these players.
Pool: Hunt, Thurston, Higham, Waddington, McGahey, Moulden, Charles, Staunton-Turner, Lomax, Ready, Cameron. Subs: Telford, Milton, Shaw, Clayton, Richardon.