MATCH REPORT: Blackpool (p)1-1 Mansfield
Christoffer Mafoumbi was the hero as Blackpool edged through to the last 16 of the Checkatrade Trophy with a penalty shootout win against Mansfield.
The Seasiders thought they had done enough to win it in normal time thanks to Kelvin Mellor’s first half header, but they were thwarted with just two minutes left on the clock as Calum Butcher bagged a late equaliser.
Instead the game was decided by spot kicks and it was the home side who came out on top with a 5-4 win, thanks to two saves from Mafoumbi.
Pool now go into Friday’s draw, which is the first stage of the competition not to be regionalised.
Seasiders fans were given a positive boost in the lead up to the game with the news that Jim McAlister was named in a matchday squad for the first time in 10 months.
The midfielder, who broke his leg against Colchester United back in February, was named among the substitutes as Blackpool made nine changes to their line-up from the team that lost 4-2 to Blackburn Rovers.
Clark Robertson, who was initially expected to be out injured until the New Year, made an early return to make his first appearance since the win over Bury in October.
Gary Bowyer’s men took charge of possession in the early exchanges and had the first shot on goal, although Sessi D’Almeida - who scored a stunning long-range effort in the last Checkatrade Trophy game - screwed his effort well wide of goal.
Mansfield’s first opportunity of the game fell to Alfie Potter after Nick Anderton had halted Lee Angol’s marauding run on goal, only for the winger to lash comfortably wide.
The game soon became a lacklustre affair, littered with mistakes, poor first touches and passes going awry left, right and centre.
We had to wait until after the half-hour mark before the next shot in anger and even then it was an effort that flew well wide of goal from the boot of Callum Cooke.
A minute later Blackpool ‘keeper Christoffer Mafoumbi got down well to palm away Jacob Mellis’ low drive after the former Seasider had burst into the home side’s box.
The game started to open up towards the end of the first half and Danny Philliskirk was inches away from breaking the deadlock with his shot from the edge of the box which clipped the top of the crossbar after a taking a deflection.
But the Seasiders did take the lead from the resulting corner as Nick Anderton’s cross fell to Kelvin Mellor at the back post and he directed his diving header into the far corner.
That seemed to wake up the visitors, who came close to finding an instant equaliser through Jimmy Spence and Mal Benning but the Seasiders managed to escape.
And then a second almost came their way on the stroke of the interval but Bobby Olejnik got down well to save at his near post from Armand Gnanduillet’s low strike.
The tall French striker tried his luck from range at the start of the second half but could only send his effort the wrong side of the Mansfield post.
His strike partner Scott Quigley send it an equally ambitious curling effort from the edge of the box but again, it failed to trouble Olejnik in the Mansfield goal.
The visitors almost capitalised on a mistake from Mafoumbi to level the scores but Nick Anderton recovered to clear off the line - via the post - from Krystian Pearce’s poked effort.
Max Clayton - who had been virtually anonymous in the first half - found himself in space just outside the box but could only send his low effort straight at Olejnik.
Mansfield substitute Omari Sterling-James soon found himself in the thick of the action but he shot well wide of goal when well placed inside the Blackpool box.
Quigley did well to beat his man by the touchline but couldn’t decide whether to shoot and cross and eventually his ball in was palmed away by the ‘keeper.
The Stags sent bodies forward in the dying stages to search for an equaliser and it paid dividends with just two minutes remaining, as Calum Butcher headed home at the back post from an inswinging free-kick.
Sessi D’Almeida went close to winning it at the death for Blackpool but Olejnik was equal to his rasping drive from range.
Instead, the game was decided by spot kicks and Mafoumbi was the hero as he saved from two of Mansfield’s spot kicks to send his side through.
Blackpool: Mafoumbi, Mellor, Robertson (Aimson), Anderton, Taylor, D'Almeida, Cooke, Philliskirk, Clayton (Delfouneso), Quigley, Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Allsop, McAlister, Spearing, Longstaff, Solomon-Otabor
Mansfield: Olejnik, Digby, Pearce, Mirfin (Hakeem), Benning, Butcher, Mellis, Atkinson (Thomas), Potter, Spencer, Angol (Sterling-James)
Subs not used: Logan, Hamilton
Referee: Seb Stockbridge
Attendance: 587 (60 Mansfield)