Blackpool 1-0 Wolves' U21s: Rocky Bushiri's stoppage-time winner seals EFL Trophy qualification
Rocky Bushiri’s stoppage-time winner saw Blackpool overcome Wolves’ Under-21s in the EFL Trophy to send the Seasiders through to the knockout stages of the competition.
Pool left it late as the defender, the unlikely hero, struck a clinical low shot into the bottom corner in the third of five minutes of added time.
Simon Grayson’s side survived three scares, as the visitors struck the post on not one, not two, but three occasions.
But the Seasiders also had plenty of chances to seal the points earlier on, but it was left to Bushiri to take the spoils as he scored the first senior goal of his career.
Pool now finish the group stage with two wins from their three games and, irrespective of how Carlisle United get on against Morecambe next week, they will make it into the next round - which remains regionalised.
Grayson handed a first start of the season in Blackpool colours to goalkeeper Mark Howard, who captained the side.
The 33-year-old recently returned to the club after completing his emergency loan spell with Salford City, where he made three appearances.
He was one of eight changes to Pool’s starting line-up from Saturday’s league win against Peterborough United.
Ryan Edwards, Calum Macdonald and Matty Virtue were the three to keep their places, while Curtis Tilt returned to the side after serving his one-game suspension at the weekend.
The likes of Liam Feeney, Sullay Kaikai and Armand Gnanduillet were named among the substitutes on a strong bench.
The youthful nature of Wolves’ side was demonstrated with their shirt numbers, which made for a combined tally of 610.
But it was visiting youngsters who threatened first, striker Benny Ashley-Seal forcing a smart save out of Howard at his near post.
The Seasiders were given a major let-off just four minutes later when Tilt almost produced yet another costly mistake.
The centre back’s pass on the edge of his own box went straight to Ashley-Seal, who bore down on goal before striking the foot of the post.
Blackpool’s first effort came from Callum Guy, who thudded a volley from the edge of the box into the turf and straight at keeper Andreas Sondergaard.
The Pool goal continued to live a charmed life, as the away side hit the woodwork for a second time.
Midfielder Chem Campbell was the man to threaten, sending a low dipping effort onto the foot of the post.
From this point Pool began to get on top, an off-balance Matty Virtue blazing a volley over the bar after Joe Nuttall unsettled the Wolves defence with his physical presence.
Grayson’s men kept their foot on the pedal, Macdonald coming close to breaking the deadlock by sending a powerful shot narrowly past the far post from 20 yards.
Sondergaard was tested by a swerving effort from Ryan Hardie on the half-hour mark, the keeper just about doing nothing to keep the ball out of his net.
This time it was Pool’s turn to hit the woodwork, Ryan Edwards seeing his header deflect and loop up onto the top of the crossbar.
Wolves hit the post for a third time at the start of the second half, Taylor Perry striking the foot of the post after shrugging off Edwards inside the box.
Ashley-Seal was then given far too much time and space to race towards the edge of the Pool box, but the striker could only drill his low shot wide of goal.
Joe Nuttall, who had endured a quiet first half, went close twice in quick succession but was still unable to find the back of the net.
He turned well before unleashing a powerful shot from 30 yards which Sondergaard did well to claim, before the striker then headed straight at the keeper at the back post.
His strike partner Hardie then came close after latching onto a clever through ball from Matty Virtue, only to be denied by Sondergaard.
Wolves were very much second best at the start of the second period, but they issued a warning when Ashley-Seal threatened once again.
The lively forward tested Howard at his near post, but the experienced shot stopper was equal to the effort and palmed it away for a corner.
With Pool chasing that elusive goal, the Seasiders turned to Liam Feeney and Armand Gnanduillet from the bench - the latter’s arrival onto the pitch greeted by fireworks above the Bloomfield Road skyline.
Unfortunately there was a distinct lack of fireworks on the pitch, as the two sides continued to struggle to break one another down.
The visitors threatened with just three minutes remaining, Perry fizzing a dangerous ball across the face of goal but away to safety.
But Pool still had time to notch the winning goal, coming via the unlikely source of Rocky Bushiri.
The defender, who had been denied from point blank range just moments earlier, drilled home into the bottom corner after being laid off by Gnanduillet.
The Belgian was then booked after the excitement got the better of him during his celebration, the defender whipping off his shirt as he wheeled away.
Blackpool: Howard, Bushiri, Edwards, Tilt, Turton, Macdonald (Feeney), Virtue, Guy, Scannell (Kaikai), Hardie ((Gnanduillet), Nuttall
Subs not used: Sims, Nottingham, Husband, Shaw
Wolves U21s: Sondergaard, Otasowie, Francis, Csoka, Sanderson, Richards, Watt, Perry, Taylor, Ashley-Seal, Campbell
Subs not used: Pardington, Hanne, Buur, Tsun Dai, Cundle, Marques, Graham
Referee: Anthony Backhouse
Attendance: 1,036 (87 Wolves)