Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer praised the strength of his squad after his much-changed side made it through to the next round of the Checkatrade Trophy at Goodison Park.
Armand Gnanduillet’s winning spot-kick handed the Seasiders a 5-4 penalty shoot-out success after their 1-1 draw with an Everton Under-21 side after 90 minutes.
The Frenchman had given Blackpool the lead at the start of the second half with an acrobatic overhead kick only for Everton to equalise through Harry Charsley late on.Pool then converted all five of their penalties to seal qualification to the last 32 as group runners-up to Cheltenham Town.
The win drew plenty of praise from boss Bowyer, who said: “I’ve made my feelings known about the competition in the past, but at the end of the day it’s a game of football and whenever you play a game you want to win it.
“We wanted to win it in normal time and we had enough chances again – it was a bit like previous performances in that regard.
“But fair play to the players they stuck to it and when it went to penalties they were very good with them.”
Bowyer opted to make six changes to his side as a number of fringe and youth players were given a run out at Goodison Park.
And those squad players stepped up to the mark as Blackpool produced an assured performance against a young Everton side.
“I always learn something,” Bowyer added. “We gave a few new lads some football. But if the environment is not right and the spirit is not right amongst the group, then you don’t get performances like tonight.
“They really wanted to perform and get through.
“We created several chances but their goalkeeper has made some great saves.
“But I am delighted for them because it shows the strength of the group we have got.”
Pool boss Bowyer said it has always been the club’s aim to get through the group stage, and spoke of his satisfaction after his players saw it through.
“At 1-1 we were pushing to get the winner but overall, we’re just delighted to get through,” he said.
“That’s been our aim, no matter how.
“Fair play to Armand Gnanduillet, he scored a wonderful goal and it will get reshown over and over again.
“He then went on to take the winning penalty and stick it away.”
The draw for the regionalised second round will be made tomorrow morning at 10.30.