MATCH REPORT: Everton U21 1-1 Blackpool (p)

Striker Armand Gnanduillet scored with a stunning overhead kick.
Striker Armand Gnanduillet scored with a stunning overhead kick.
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Blackpool made it through to the next round of the EFL Trophy with a dramatic penalty shootout victory against Everton.

Armand Gnanduillet’s spot-kick proved the difference as the Seasiders dumped a youthful Everton U21 side out of the competition.

The game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes of football, with Armand Gnanduillet’s stunning overhead kick being cancelled out by Harry Charsley’s close-range effort.

The Frenchman struck in the opening minutes of the second half as the Seasiders saw off a youthful Everton U21 side 1-0 at Goodison Park.

The stunning effort was at odds with a game low on quality, as both sides struggled to get to grips with the rainy conditions.

But Charsley struck for the Toffees to ensure a dramatic finish from the penalty spot.

Pool made a host of changes for the game, with Will Aimson, Macauley Wilson, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Mark Cullen and Armand Gnanduillet coming into the side.

In fact it was a proud day for Wilson in particular, as the 19-year-old made his professional debut for the club and put in an assured performance at right back.

Blackpool started the game on the front foot and pressed the youthful Everton side deep in their own territory.

But as the game settled down, the home side looked to get the ball down and were content to keep hold of possession.

But the first real opportunity of the game fell to Blackpool, when Everton stopper Mateusz Hewelt was forced to save well down at his near post from Armand Gnanduillet’s half volley.

The first talking point of the match came when Blackpool goalkeeper Sam Slocombe was substituted for youngster Myles Boney with just 11 minutes on the clock.

Slocombe was clearly not carrying an injury, so the change was seemingly made to get around the EFL Trophy rules which stipulate Blackpool must field five players from their previous match.

Not only did the unconventional change allow Boney to get 80 minutes or so under his belt, it was also yet more evidence - as if we really need it - of the farcical nature of this competition.

The game, played in bitterly cold and wet conditions at Goodison Park, was also played in front of a sparse crowd at Goodison Park, with both sets of supporters housed in the same stand behind the goal.

The Toffees’ first shots at goal were blazed high and wide by Harry Charsley and David Henen respectively.

Winger Bright Osayi-Samuel worked his way into the Everton box but saw his effort curled wide of the goal.

Everton midfielder Charsley came the closest to opening the scoring in the first half when his long-range effort beat Boney but crashed off the bar.

Blackpool did come close themselves, when Mark Cullen missed a gilt-edged chance when the ball was played across the box from Osayi-Samuel, who had done well to race onto a through ball behind the Everton backline.

Cullen skidded to get something on the cross but inadvertently directed it wide of the post.

The hosts remained patient with their build-up play but far too often their attacks came to nothing.

Blackpool, meanwhile, were content to sit back and take advantage on the break.

The deadlock was finally broken just two minutes into the second half, and it came in stunning fashion.

The fall bell kindly for Armand Gnanduillet inside the box and his ambitious overhead kick found its way into the back of the net via the far post.

The Frenchman also notched his second when his header looked destined for the bottom corner, only to be diverted away from goal by his own teammate Mark Cullen.

The visitors went close to extending their lead once again when Osayi-Samuel fired narrowly over the bar from the edge of the box.

Blackpool were given three bookings in quick succession midway through the half as they looked to halt Everton’s attacks.

But it was Pool who came closest to scoring again as Mark Cullen cut inside after being fed the ball behind the Everton defence, only to see his left-footed effort deflected away for a corner.

Everton’s goal came out of nowhere, as Harry Charsley found himself bearing down on goal with no defenders around him, allowing him to take a couple of touches and fire tidily into the bottom corner and beyond Boney’s despairing dive.

The goal gave the hosts a second win and they pressed forward in their droves to find an elusive winner.

But the next chance came to the Seasiders who began to have some success on the break in the final stages. Everton’s ‘keeper Hewlet produced a fine save to claw away Michael Cain’s curling effort from range.

As the game entered its final moments, both sides pressed ahead for a winner as the dreaded penalty shoot-out loomed.

The final chance of the game fell Blackpool’s way and it was a huge one, with the ball falling to Gnanduillet inside the six-yard box only for the ball to elude him with the goal gaping.

The Seasiders will find out their next opponent when the EFL Trophy draw is made on Thursday, which remains regionalised.

Everton U21: Hewelt, Jones, Browning (Bainbridge), Yarney, Foulds (Evans), Robinson, Baningime, Gibson, Charsley, Henen, Dyson (Duffus)

Subs: Renshaw, Holland, Brewster, Kiersey.

Blackpool: Slocombe (Boney), Wilson, Aimson, Nolan, Daniel, Osayi-Samuel (Philliskirk), McAlister, Cain, Yeates, Cullen, Gnanduillet.

Subs: Higham, Payne.

Referee: Chris Kavanagh