Blackpool U18s top Rochdale in cup final to add silverware to memorable campaign

Blackpool Under-18s topped off a magnificent season with a piece of silverware.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 9:27 pm

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The young Seasiders overcame Rochdale 3-2 in a thrilling encounter in the final of the Lancashire FA Professional Youth Cup.

Joe Strawn, Jake Daniels and Tayt Trusty were the scorers as John Murphy’s side picked up the trophy at Lancashire FA’s headquarters in Leyland.

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It marks an excellent ending to a memorable campaign, which included a run to the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup and a third-placed finish in the league.

Despite being on the back foot for the opening 15 minutes,Blackpool took the lead with their first chance of the evening.

Joe Strawn was the man to open the scoring, nipping the ball off the toes of a Rochdale defender before firing past goalkeeper Bradley Kelly.

Murphy’s side squandered two good chances to add a second shortly afterwards when Dannen Francis broke through on the counter, only to pick the wrong option on both occasions with players left unmarked at the back post.

The game was played at Lancashire FA's headquarters in Leyland

At the other end, the Seasiders were given a let-off when Alec McLachlan’s clearance fell straight to Peter Thomas, who fortunately failed to hit the target with a volley.

Thomas atoned for the miss on the half-hour mark when he equalised for Dale, drilling a low effort across McLachlan and into the far corner.

Pool could have restored their lead five minutes before the interval when Bobby Bjork provided a teasing cross in from the left, which just eluded Jake Daniels in the centre.

Both sides exchanged clear-cut chances to edge ahead in first-half stoppage time - Will Squires hitting the bar with a header for Pool before Thomas fired over for the opposition.

Murphy made a bold call at half-time, making a double change as Jack Moore and Johnny Johnston replaced Bjork and Zack Littler.

The change paid off as Blackpool took just four minute to edge their noses in front for a second time, as Daniels slotted home from close range.

It was a big moment for the forward, as it marked his 30th goal of the campaign, topping off an excellent year which also included a professional contract and a goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Pool had no intention of sitting back though and maintained their pressure, Francis testing Kelly with a rasping drive which was well saved.

The tangerines were largely in control of the game but they still had to remain careful, as Dale almost opened them up on the counter down the right.

Daniels came within inches of adding a second midway through the second-half which would have put the game to bed, but unfortunately his low shot bobbled agonisingly past the post.

The Seasiders would live to regret that missed opportunity as Dale levelled for a second time a minute later, Paul Kyffin picking out the top corner of the Pool net from the edge of the box.

Dale weren’t level for long though, as Blackpool took the lead for a third time when they were awarded a penalty after substitute Johnny Johnston was brought down by the keeper after running clear through on goal.

Tayt Trusty took the spot kick duties and drilled home a powerful effort down the centre of the goal to make it 3-2.

Rochdale threw the kitchen sink at Blackpool in the last 10 minutes to try and force the game to penalties, as Jordan Scanlon saw a shot deflect narrowly over.

McLachlan was then called upon to make a vital save eight minutes from time from a header from a Dale corner.

Pool had a chance to put the game to bed for once and for all six minutes from time, only for Strawn to see a low effort blocked following a spell of pinball in the Rochdale box.

Daniels squandered another priceless chance in the four minutes of stoppage-time, dragging a shot wide of the far post after being sent through.

But thankfully it wasn’t to matter, as Murphy’s side held on for the silverware to jubilant scenes of celebration.

TEAMS

Rochdale: B. Kelly, Cunningham, Sutton, Kershaw, Watts, Nevett, Mandet (Yadvat), Kyffin (Mialkowski), Thomas, Scanlon, O. Kelly (Jesus)

Subs not used: Craven, Lawrence

Blackpool: McLachlan, Donkor, Fitzgerald, Squires, Bjork (Moore), Littler (Johnston), Trusty, Mariette, Strawn, Francis, Daniels

Subs not used: Cunningham, Nyane, Byron