Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer has heaped praise on the spirit and character of his players as they prepare for tonight’s crunch FA Cup third round replay with Barnsley.
The Seasiders had to show plenty of grit and determination during their 0-0 draw at Cambridge United on Saturday after being forced to see out the final stages of the game with 10 men courtesy of Tom Aldred’s red card.
While Bowyer was less than pleased with his side’s display at the Abbey Stadium, he was pleased with the character of his men who dug deep to hold on for a valuable point.
“The spirit of them is terrific but we’ve got to be like that from the first whistle,” he said. “But we weren’t and it took us 45 minutes to get into it.
“That’s the disappointing thing from our point of view.
“But when you look at it, that’s four consecutive clean sheets away from home and we’ve had a go in the second half, so we can’t be too down.”
The game finished in controversial circumstances, with Pool keeper Sam Slocombe saving a Luke Berry penalty to help his side hold on for a point after the hosts had been awarded a generous-looking spot kick.
Aldred was adjudged to have tugged back Cambridge’s Conor Newton as he raced through on goal, although there appeared little contact.
Bowyer was furious with the decision and confirmed he would be appealing the red card - which was successful.
Despite finishing the game with 10 men, Pool weren’t content to sit back and hold on for a point and showed bravery to look for an unlikely winner.
Bowyer said this highlighted the spirit of his players and spoke of his delight at the final whistle at the manner of which they finished the game.
“It’s a fourth consecutive away clean sheet for us and we put in a sterling effort at the end,” he said.
“We even had our own opportunities and half-chances to maybe nick a win.
“It’s a great point. We were poor first half and to be fair the players were told that at half-time and I thought you saw the response.
“But that said, we had the best chance of the first half when Mark Cullen hit the goalie. You can’t say it’s a good save because it’s hit him and I think that just summed up our luck really.”
The Seasiders will now turn their focus to a trip to Barnsley tonight for a place in the fourth round of the FA Cup with the winner facing a trip to Blackburn Rovers.
Blackpool drew 0-0 against the Tykes in the original tie at Bloomfield Road, but may be forced to rue a number of missed opportunities in what was a promising display against Championship opposition.
But Bowyer is still looking forward to tonight’s game, with a win meaning he would come up against his former side in the next round.
He said: “I’m delighted for the away support because they were terrific again and now we can look forward to an exciting replay on Tuesday night.”
Barnsley come into the game on the back of a disappointing 2-0 reversal away to Fulham, although they stayed in 10th place in the Championship although they lost ground on the play-off spots.
Pool midfielder Brad Potts was forced off the pitch towards the end of Saturday’s game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, but Bowyer is hopeful it will be nothing serious.
He added: “We’re just hoping that’s not too bad and hopefully he just came off as a precaution.”