Terry McPhillips spoke of his pride after his brave and battling Blackpool players gave Premier League Arsenal a Halloween scare.
The Seasiders exited the Carabao Cup after a run to the last 16, going down to a narrow 2-1 defeat against Unai Emery’s men in front of 48,000 at the Emirates Stadium.
Blackpool came within a whisker of causing a cup shock and sending the match to penalties, though the Gunners won through to face their north London arch-rivals Tottenham in the quarter-finals.
“What a show, what a performance”, manager McPhillips said. “We gave them a scare and I thought we were terrific to a man.
“To come here, to the best team in Europe at the moment with the run they’re on, and scare them is just brilliant.”
Arsenal thought they were cruising into the next round when they took a two-goal lead with goals in either half, the first coming from Stephan Lichsteiner before Emile Smith-Rowe added a second.
But a red card to Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi changed the game, with Blackpool defender Paudie O’Connor beating Petr Cech to set up a tense finish.
McPhillips’ men went close to finding an equaliser but their challenge was eventually ended five minutes from time, when they too were reduced to 10 men as goalscorer O’Connor saw red for a foul on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
McPhillips added: “Their sending off helped obviously. I thought it was correct as he pulled Jordan (Thompson) back when he was already on a yellow.
“I thought they scored from their only two chances. The first goal is a great run and ball in, and the lad has got his big toe to it and poked it in.
“The lad has done his best to miss the next one but I don’t think Mark Howard has had an actual save to make apart from that.
“To come here and do that wouldn’t be bad for a team in the Premier League, so I’m really proud.
“With 11 v 10 we had them on the back foot and Jay (Spearing) has had a chance, pinching it off the goalie.
“Nathan (Delfouneso) got in behind them first half and Paudie has hit the crossbar before he scored.”
Of O’Connor’s red card, McPhillips said: “I thought the referee and his assistants did great but I didn’t think Paudie’s was a straight red. I thought it was a yellow.
“I couldn’t believe it when he went for his top pocket and pulled out the red. I’ve watched it back and I still don’t think it was.
“It went to VAR, so what do I know? But I don’t think it’s a red card in League One, it’s a yellow.
“If it was a yellow it would have kept us in the ascendancy and we would have had another chance, there’s no doubt.
“So that was taken away from us but full credit to them, they were brilliant.”