YMCA were convincing 5-1 Hogan Cup winners at windswept Common Edge, though lower league Blackpool gave a good account of themselves and caused the visitors some worries early in the second half.
Blackpool actually fared better playing against the strong wind, having had it in their favour in the first half which ended with YMCA two goals ahead.
Isaac Eastham put YMCA ahead with a penalty awarded for a foul after 10 minutes.
And they doubled their lead with a fine run and shot by Sam Ackrill.
But Blackpool’s heads didn’t drop and a change of tactics did the trick after the break.
Manager Martin Baird explained: “With the wind in our favour we’d fallen into the trap of just lumping it forward, but the lads deserve a lot of credit for their second-half performance.”
It was the second penalty of the match which gave AFC hope, Lee Casey regaining his feet to slot home after being challenged from behind.
Perhaps the key turning point of the game followed, as Liam Docherty pulled off a fine double save to deny AFC an equaliser.
First he blocked a shot by Ross Brown, who found space down the left, then the rebound effort by Brett Fitzpatrick was turned against a point by Docherty.
YMCA took control from that point, adding three further goals in the latter stages.
First Jack Meechan rounded off a fine run with a left-footed cross-shot into the corner. Meechan netted again three minutes later with a glancing header from an Alex Bradley corner. Bradley then hit the woodwork twice before Sharples fired home.
Manager Duncan Cowburn hopes his YMCA side are up and running on another successful cup run after reaching the semi-finals of the Lancashire FA Cup. Cowburn said: “It’s been an up and down season. Losing a couple of players caused a hiccup, but we’re good, hardworking team.”
Baird was proud of his AFC charges, adding: “Credit to my lads – YMCA play at the level above us and it was our first game in six weeks.”
Baird plays for the AFC Blackpool senior side in the North West Counties League and he added: “I’m hoping to provide Stuart Parker (Blackpool manager) with some good players in a few years.”