The Reds will have to try again in their attempts to reach the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup after a battling Blackpool held Paul Heckingbottom’s side to a 0-0 draw. Late chances for Conor Hourihane to win the tie went begging whilst Adam Davies had to be at his best to deny the hosts on a handful of occasions.
The Reds Head Coach made three changes to his starting XI with Marc Roberts returning from suspension to replace Adam Jackson in defence; Aidy White returned from injury and stepped into the left-back spot vacated by Andy Yiadom who is in Gabon with the Ghana national team for the African Nations tournament; Sam Winnall replaced Ryan Williams.
It was a very uneventful first 45 with the home side edging things in terms of chances. Jim McAllister fizzed a shot wide inside five minutes and Davies turned away Kyle Vassell’s stinging shot on 11 minutes.
The Reds grew into the contest slowly but created very little of note, Tom Bradshaw flicking a header wide after good work by Josh Scowen down the right and Marley Watkins did well at the by-line just before the break to pull back an Adam Hammill cross but there were no Reds waiting to stick the ball away.
HALF TIME:Blackpool 0-0 Reds
Hecky’s men came flying out of the blocks after the restart with Hammill the main attraction. He had a swerving effort from distance saved comfortably by Sam Slocombe in the Blackpool goal and saw another effort slightly closer in deflected just wide for a corner.
The resulting corner was swung in brilliantly by Hammill but Scowen didn’t get enough on his header and it slipped wide of the upright.
Aidy White went on a barnstorming run on 54 minutes, evading challenges but his cross from the by-line was over-hit and Blackpool cleared.
Soon after, Winnall floated a lovely cross to the far post which Marley Watkins met with power, but the header flew past the ‘keepers post and out for a goal-kick.
A break in midfield saw Brad Potts rushing towards goal and Scowen scythed him down to pick up a yellow card. Vassell on 67 minutes again made Davies work in the Reds goal, the shot from inside the box was heading for the top corner before Adam’s superb one-handed save turned it over the bar.
Hammill and Bradshaw were replaced by Ryan Kent and Stefan Payne with 75 minutes on the clock.
Another cracking one-handed save by Davies thwarted Potts whose low shot was destined for the bottom corner.
With time running out the Reds created two excellent openings. A lovely flick by substitute Payne into the path of Hourihane was controlled nicely by the Skipper but he dragged the ball well wide from 12 yards.
Deep into injury time and Hourihane created his own chance as he surged beyond the Blackpool back-line only to see his superb, angled drive into the corner repelled by the long leg of Slocombe.
With practically the last kick of the game, Jamille Matt could have won it for the Tangerines. Neat play by Potts saw the big striker inside the box and beyond his man but the shot was driven clean over the Reds crossbar.
Into the draw the Reds go for the fourth round but to get there, Hecky’s side will have to play Blackpool once more but at Oakwell in an FA Cup third round replay, date to be confirmed.
FULL TIME:Blackpool 0-0 Reds
Davies (GK), Bree, Roberts, MacDonald, White; Hammill (Kent ’75), Scowen, Hourihane, Watkins; Winnall, Bradshaw (Payne ’75).
Subs not used: Townsend (GK), Evans, Jackson, Moncur, Williams.