Stoke 0-0 Blackpool (5-4 on pens) : Stoke advance in the EFL Cup with shootout victory
(Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Stoke City have begun their 20/21 season with a win over Blackpool, which puts them into the hat for the second round draw. 

In the end however, they could only be separated by the lottery of the penalty shootout. With youngster Tashan Oakley-Boothe grabbing what turned out to be the winning spot-kick, with Ollie Turton missing the decisive penalty for Blackpool.  

A match which saw the away side have the majority of the chances in both halves, was unfortunately not rewarded with a win. As Stoke put in a below-par showing, but more importantly for them, they advance into the next round.

Story of the match

First half:

The game began as a cagey affair, with the opening ten minutes seeing both sides give away a number of fouls, before Stoke had a succession of corners dealt with by the away defence. 

The first chance of the game came the way of the EFL League One side, with CJ Hamilton cutting inside and forcing a good save out of Adam Davies in the 13th minute. 

Chris Maxwell then had to be alert a few minutes later to gather a James McClean cross from the left. 

The Potters' first real opportunity arrived on 22 minutes through Lee Gregory, who put an effort wide of the goal from 15 yards, which was a chance he really should have taken. 

Michael Nottingham then had a chance at the other end for Blackpool, as he came close to getting onto the end of an Ethan Robson free-kick just after the half hour mark. 

The Tangerines almost took the lead again a few minutes later, as Hamilton headed just over from a Sulley Kaikai cross. 

The best chance of the half arrived in the 38th minute as once again Kaikai put in a dangerous cross, which was saved by Davies, before Bruno Martins Indi cleared an effort off the line.  

With the first half coming to an end, there was enough time for a couple chances for the hosts, with McClean firing wide from inside the box, followed by Benik Afobe heading an effort at goal a few minutes later, which was easily caught by Maxwell.

 Second half:

The first sight of goal in the second half came just over ten minutes in, as Blackpool's Keshi Anderson put a free-kick wide from 25 yards. 

Grant Ward then headed just over the bar from a James Husband cross as the lower league side continued to assert their dominance. 

City got their first chance of the half through Danny Batth, who rose highest to meet a Sam Clucas corner before heading over. With James Chester then also heading a corner off target a few minutes later despite being unmarked.

Clucas then found himself clean through on 70 minutes, but Husband got back to clear away for Blackpool with the Stoke man bearing down on goal. 

After a quiet spell Blackpool found their feet again, with Husband turning up at the other end of the pitch to fire a first time effort over the goal with 12 minutes to go. 

Stoke then immediately went up the other end and substitute Tyrese Campbell had a shot saved at the near post by Maxwell. As the match ultimately went to penalties.

Penalties: 

The shootout began with two misses from McClean and Oliver Sarkic, before successful penalties from Campbell and Hamilton. Clucas then scored, and an Anderson miss gave Stoke the advantage. Jordan Thompson however had his penalty saved, followed by Robson scoring, which brought the shootout level once more.

Substitute Steven Fletcher then scored, but so did Kaikai to take it to sudden death. Martins Indi then put away his penalty, and so did Husband to take it further. Finally Oakley-Boothe fired past Maxwell, with Turton firing wide to send Stoke through. 

Takeaways

A big improvement needed if Stoke are to challenge for promotion this season:

The EFL Championship side found themselves to be second best for much of the tie, despite being favourites going into the game. They struggled to threatened Blackpool with many real opportunities.

They will know that they got away with it in the end, and will be hoping that a lucky win here will help to bring about a bit of form going into the new season.

Blackpool show great promise against higher league opposition:

The Seasiders will have come into this game knowing that they were the underdogs, but they certainly didn't show it on the pitch. With them clearly having the better chances in the first half, as well as starting the second half strongly.

A loss will feel like a bit of a gut-punch after putting in such a solid display, but they know that should have taken at least one of their chances. They will however be encouraged by the performance going into the new season, and will hope that they can kick on from here.

Man of the Match

James Husband:

The Blackpool winger was lively at both ends of the pitch, with a key challenge to stop Clucas, as he looked to slot a chance past Maxwell. He also had a chance go over the bar in the latter stages, as well as supplying a lovely cross for Ward to head over.

The winger will feel unfortunate to be on the losing side, but more displays like this will see him smiling at full-time in the future.  

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