Blackpool 3-2 Solihull Moors: Jay Spearing's extra-time penalty seals FA Cup third round tie with Arsenal

An extra-time penalty from Jay Spearing saw Blackpool avoid an FA Cup upset as the Seasiders saw off brave Solihull Moors to set up a date with Arsenal in the third round.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 6:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 10:53 pm
Jay Spearing celebrates his extra-time winner from the penalty spot
Jay Spearing celebrates his extra-time winner from the penalty spot

The skipper decided the televised tie after the two sides couldn’t be separated after 180 minutes of football.

Pool were fortunate to survive a scare, despite edging two ahead in the first half thanks to goals from Armand Gnanduillet and Joe Dodoo.

But Solihull, who had arguably been the better side up to that point, deservedly got themselves back in it with two goals from Adi Yussuf, one in either half.

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That saw the game go to extra time and it was Spearing’s spot kick that sealed the win, which means Blackpool will be the team to face Arsenal at Bloomfield Road on Saturday, January 5.

Terry McPhillips named the strongest side possible for the tie, making two changes from the team that lost 2-0 at Oxford United at the weekend.

Curtis Tilt returned from a hip injury to take his place back in the starting 11, replacing Ollie Turton who missed out with a tight hamstring.

Gnanduillet, who was on the bench at Oxford on Saturday, was handed a start alongside Dodoo in attack, with Nathan Delfouneso dropping back down to the bench.

The Seasiders reverted back to the 3-5-2 system with a back three of Tilt, Donervon Daniels and Ben Heneghan, with Marc Bola and Liam Feeney the two wing backs.

Skipper Jay Spearing was partnered in midfield by Callum Guy and Jordan Thompson.

Solihull, who Pool drew 0-0 with in the initial tie, came into the game in a rich vein of form, having lost just one of their last 16 games.

Just the West Stand was open for the occasion, with the TV cameras based in the same stand leaving a view of three empty stands for those viewers watching from home.

Solihull came firing out of the blocks in the opening exchanges and the first chance of the evening came their way, with defender Liam Daly sending a downwards header at the back post into the turf which bounced over Mark Howard’s crossbar.

The visitors continued their aerial bombardment of the Blackpool box, forcing a number of early corners, but the Seasiders survived the early onslaught and produced some pressure of their own.

This resulted in Pool taking the lead on 10 minutes, as Gnanduillet volleyed home his ninth goal of the season with a close-range finish from Jordan Thompson’s corner.

Solihull would have netted an equaliser five minutes later if it wasn’t for Howard, who raced out of his goal quickly and spread himself to deny Adi Yussuf inside the six-yard box.

Despite being second best in the early stages, Pool doubled their lead on 20 minutes thanks to a clinical piece of finishing from Dodoo.

The forward did well to maneuvre himself some space inside the box, sliding in with a calmly-taken finish from Bola’s pullback.

The goal proved to be Dodoo’s last action of the evening, as he was forced to be brought off with an injury which saw Delfouneso come on in his place.

Despite being two goals down, the visitors remained spirited, refused to give in and they got their rewards, Yussuf pulling one back with a clever glancing header, although the goal was all of Pool’s own doing.

It came after the Seasiders had failed to deal with a long throw which had been launched into their box, leading to Yussuf to getting the slightest of touches to send the ball beyond Howard and into the bottom corner.

The non-leaguers continued to throw everything they had at the Seasiders, who looked hesitant and nervy when attempting to deal with the long balls coming their way.

Solihull nearly claimed an equaliser in first-half stoppage time from another well-delivered corner, which Bola had to alert to as he just about managed to turn it away at the near post.

The visitors took just five minutes of the second half to haul themselves back level, but it came in extremely controversial circumstances.

The referee awarded Solihull a penalty after Spearing was harshly adjudged to have trip Alex Gudger, despite appearing to have cleanly won the ball. Yussuf made no mistake from 12 yards to net both his and his side’s second of the night.

Solihull were now in the ascendancy and looked to immediately add a third, which they nearly got when Osborne hit the foot of the Blackpool post with a low shot from the edge of the box.

The Seasiders were under the cosh for the majority of the second half but they did produce a half chance of sorts on the break, which Thompson skewed wide of goal.

But they remained second best and they struggled to get out of their own half at times, with Solihull simply appearing to want it more.

The visitors caused more problems with their long throws, with Blackpool again failing to deal with one 10 minutes from time which Yussuf stabbed wide of goal.

With Solihull tiring, Blackpool did exert some pressure in the dying stages but they were unable to find that all-important winner, with the game going to extra time.

There was very little goalmouth action in the first half of extra time, that was until the 105th minute when Blackpool were this time the beneficiaries of a controversial penalty.

Gnanduillet was the man to have been brought down, with Spearing stepping up and restoring Blackpool’s lead.

Thankfully for Pool, that proved to be the last real action of the night as McPhillips’ men held on to set up a date with the Gunners.

TEAMS

Blackpool: Howard, Daniels, Heneghan, Tilt, Feeney, Bola, Spearing, Guy (Pritchard), Thompson, Dodoo (Delfouneso, O'Sullivan), Gnanduillet

Subs not used: Mafoumbi, O'Connor, Nottingham, Taylor

Solihull: Boot, Williams, Reckord (Carline), Storer, Daly, Gudger, Osborne, Carter, Yussuf (Thomas), Hylton (Murphy), Wright (Maxwell)

Subs not used: Flowers, Murphy

Referee: Andy Haines

Attendance: 1,441 (402 Solihull)