Blackpool matched Arsenal's 'superstars', says Murphy

Ben Jacobson celebrates his goal
Ben Jacobson celebrates his goal
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John Murphy says Blackpool’s youngsters showed they can compete with the “superstars” of Arsenal’s Category One side.

MATCH REPORT: Blackpool U18 2-2 Arsenal U18

Craig Thordarson made a vital penalty save

Craig Thordarson made a vital penalty save

The young Seasiders came from behind on Tuesday night to draw 2-2 with Arsenal in the first leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final.

It means they head to the Emirates for next month’s decider with everything to play for.

Murphy admits his side may have been a bit overawed in the early stages of the game and perhaps showed the Gunners a bit too much respect.

But they grew in confidence as the game wore on to pick up yet another superb result in the competition.

John Murphy's side head to the Emirates for the second leg with everything still to play for

John Murphy's side head to the Emirates for the second leg with everything still to play for

Murphy said: “We’re playing against higher clubs, they get a lot of possession and the natural thing to do when you win the ball back is to panic. I think we did that a little bit.

“But similar to the games against West Ham and Southampton, we grew into the game and started to show more composure.

“We started making pass after pass and we got the crowd on their feet.

“It’s easy to go in and tell them to show composure from minute one, it doesn’t work like that. But in the end they got it and they worked it out for themselves.

Blackpool celebrate Dylan Sumner's goal

Blackpool celebrate Dylan Sumner's goal

“They started to have some belief that they could play against these so-called superstars.

“That’s probably what they are. People see them as superstars in the making. But it was another unbelievable effort and performance, again.

“It’s good that we go to the Emirates still in the tie and now the message is: go and enjoy it again.

“The pitch is going to be a lot better. Whether that suits them better, possibly. But you’ve seen in the first leg we can play football when we believe in ourselves. We can create chances and we can defend when we have to defend.

“It was another fantastic effort and I couldn’t be any prouder.”

Pool keeper Craig Thordarson’s penalty save from Trae Coyle denied the young Gunners a 3-1 lead and paved the way for Ben Jacobson’s equaliser 15 minutes from time.

Tyreece John-Jules had given the visitors the lead from a 31st-minute corner at Bloomfield Road only for Dylan Sumner to equalise shortly before the break.

Xavier Amaechi gave Arsenal the lead for the second time before Thordarson and Jacobson filled Blackpool with hope for the second leg on April 16.

“There was a period in the second half where I thought we would have been good value for the win,” Murphy added.

“We had a couple of chances, we were on the front foot and we looked the stronger team.

“We were looking the more likely to score but all of a sudden Arsenal go 2-1 up. And then they get a penalty.

“I just thought ‘that’s football’. You can do so well but sometimes it just gets taken away from you.

“But credit to the analyst, credit to Craig, he went the right way again. We watched one of their penalties on video the night before and where did he go? Right down the middle.

“The keeper has got to show bravery. Because if the player sticks it in the corner and you don’t move, you look a bit stupid. So he’s shown brilliant bravery to keep us in the game.

“But then we score a scruffy goal to equal their first scruffy goal. As good as Arsenal are, to be done on a set piece was disappointing.

“We initially got back into the game with a great goal. Nathan Shaw - who in the first half was incredible - puts a brilliant cross in to Will Dunne, who pulls off his marker and delivers a great header back to Dylan Sumner who arrives on it and finishes with some quality.

“That made our half-time team talk a lot easier.”