AFC Blackpool 4, Norton United 2
MANAGER Stuart Parker hailed his Blackpool side’s “outstanding attitude, self-belief and panache” despite a couple of late lapses at the back.
AFC made it ten goals in two games as Ben Waddington netted twice to keep the pressure on Vodkat first division leaders Runcorn Town.
Parker’s side had looked to be cruising to victory but two contentious Norton goals caused the manager to question their concentration in defence.
Anthony Stayte was again part of an outstanding AFC midfield and he opened the scoring on 21 minutes, winning the race to prod the ball over the line after Doug McEvoy’s deep cross had been headed beyond the keeper by a defender.
Stayte volleyed over when well placed for a second and it remained 1-0 at half-time as Waddington and fellow striker Niall Cummins were both denied by top-drawer saves.
Waddington did double the lead on the hour, beating two defenders on the by-line and cutting inside to score from an acute angle.
Norton grabbed a lifeline on 71 minutes, capitalising on a defensive mix-up although AFC felt Tom France’s shot was cleared before crossing the line. Blackpool looked to have sealed the points when Waddington seized on Gary Fawcett’s through ball to beat the keeper one-on-one with ten minutes remaining.
But Norton pegged them back again with a controversial penalty, scored by Steve Allen on 85 minutes after keeper Andy Speight was deemed to have pushed an attacker after collecting the ball.
Any prospects of a nailbiting finale ended three minutes later, when Cummins outpaced the defence and rounded the keeper for the fourth.
Runcorn kept their noses ahead of AFC on goal difference after crushing Ashton Town 5-0, which is why Parker is ruing those defensive slips.
“They have gone 11-0 in their last two games and we should have done the same,” he said. “Instead we’ve conceded three but we do have a game in hand.”
Blackpool welcome premier division St Helens Town to Common Edge tomorrow (7.45pm) for a third round tie in the league’s Challenge Trophy.
Blackpool: Speight, McEvoy, Baker, Ford, Walker, Stayte, Baird, Muscroft, Cummins, Waddington, Fawcett; subs: Ashall, Carroll, Dell.