Inspirational Blackpool reach last four of FA Youth Cup

Finlay Sinclair-Smith celebrates scoring Blackpool's opener
Finlay Sinclair-Smith celebrates scoring Blackpool's opener

Rowan Roache kept Blackpool’s FA Youth Cup dream alive with a stoppage time penalty to see off Blackburn Rovers 3-2 and send the Seasiders into the last four.

Blackpool found themselves 2-1 down against ten-man Rovers with 87 minutes on the clock, but Will Dunne struck Pool level before Roache won it in the most dramatic of circumstances at the death.

The young Seasiders appeared to be heading out when Rovers fought back from a man down and a goal down to lead through Hayden Carter and Jack Vale, after Finlay Sinclair-Smith had put John Murphy’s side ahead.

But Dunne came off the bench to equalise with a close-range header before Roache struck the decisive blow at the death.

Blackpool will now face Arsenal in a two-legged semi-final after the Gunners saw off Colchester United 5-1.

In the previous round, where Blackpool overcame Ipswich Town 2-0 at Portman Road, Blackpool made a perfect start when Rowan Roache opened the scoring with a free kick inside the opening few minutes.

That almost proved to be the case once again with Roache trying his luck from 25 yards out; but on this occasion he sent his rasping effort narrowly over the bar.

Blackburn’s first effort of the evening came on ten minutes, when Brad Lynch stole a march on his marker before firing a left-footed shot straight at Pool keeper Craig Thordarson.

His opposite number Matthew Campbell was then forced into making a double save to keep Blackpool at bay, blocking Owen Watkinson’s close-range effort having originally fumbled Nathan Shaw’s low shot into the striker’s path.

The Seasiders, who controlled large swathes of the first half, were denied by the woodwork when Finlay Sinclair-Smith’s thunderous drive cannoned off the crossbar before Shaw was denied on the rebound courtesy of a last-ditch challenge.

The ball fell for Sinclair-Smith inside the Blackburn box a couple of minutes later but this time he could only stab over.

He then turned provider as he lofted a cross to Roache at the back post, but the Ireland U19 international couldn’t get the required contact on his shot.

The half ended with the home side coming close through right back George Wilson, who sent a shot narrowly over Thordarson’s bar.

Rovers came out strongly at the start of the second half and tested Thordarson with an early effort from Jack Evans, but the Pool keeper was equal to his low effort.

The Seasiders responded well though and squandered yet another gilt-edged chance.

It came after Blackpool hit the woodwork for the second time, this time Ben Jacobson seeing his low shot bounce off the post into the path of Watkinson who blasted over from close range.

Pool hit the woodwork for a third time, but this time it didn’t matter as they managed to open the scoring on the rebound.

It started with a delicious cross from Roache towards Sinclair-Smith, who smashed his header against the crossbar before tapping home into an empty net from the rebound.

Blackburn’s task was made even more difficult when they were reduced to ten men just minutes after conceding; George Wilson being shown a straight red for a late lunge on Jack Newton.

But Rovers weren’t to be deterred and got back on level terms straight away through Hayden Carter, who managed to squeeze home his header at the back post.

The red card only served to inspire the hosts and they defied the odds to take the lead with 20 minutes left.

Blackpool failed to clear their lines and Jack Vale took full advantage, curling home into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Rovers almost stretched their lead through Lynch who brought a good save out of Thordarson with his curling effort.

The Seasiders had a priceless opportunity to draw level in the dying stages when Watkinson headed inches wide of the far post.

But substitute Will Dunne made amends in the 87th minute, rising highest to head home to level things up.

But the drama didn’t stop there, as Blackpool won it in the second minute of stoppage time courtesy of Roache’s confident penalty after Watkinson had been felled.

Blackburn: Campbell, Wilson, Thompson, Buckley (Connell), Jones, Barnes, Vale, Evans, Carter, Lynch (Pike), Boyomo (Connolly)

Subs not used: Eastham, Dolan


Blackpool: Thordarson, Williams (Dunne), Jacobson, Newton (O’Brien), Avon, Sumner, Adarkwa (Maddox), Roache, Watkinson, Sinclair-Smith, Shaw

Subs not used: Simson, Jaaskelainen