Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell said saving three shootout spot-kicks in the Seasiders’ FA Cup upset of West Bromwich Albion made up for a Christmas spent suffering from coronavirus.
The 30-year-old Welsh stopper thwarted Kyle Edwards and Darnell Furlong from the spot before his match-winning save from Matheus Pereira sent Blackpool through.
Maxwell, along with team-mate Matty Virtue, tested positive for Covid-19 on 23 December and the cup tie was his first game back after missing two League One fixtures over the festive period.
“It’s good to be back, spending 10 days away from the boys and then spending an extra three days getting back into the swing of things, it’s been difficult,” he told BBC Sport.
Blackpool manager Neil Critchley described his keeper as a “hero” and it was a dramatic high for Maxwell after a difficult period.
“It was awful,” he said. “Not only feeling terrible for about eight days but also missing out on football games and training. It was tough and it’s nice to be back and to contribute like I did today.
“I was lying in bed for about three days and felt really, really lethargic so it’s nice to come through it.”
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Blackpool handed Baggies boss Sam Allardyce his managerial break in 1994 but added to his worries with a committed showing and never looked two divisions inferior to the visitors.
Twice the League One club led as Jerry Yates swept in Bez Lubala’s cross from close range and later turned provider to set up Gary Madine to stroke into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Semi Ajayi’s header and Pereira’s penalty, awarded for an Ollie Turton handball, forced extra time but the Baggies missed three shootout spot-kicks to Blackpool’s two.
Allardyce: ‘Albion need new blood’
Albion remain without a win in five games since Allardyce took charge in December and the 66-year-old says he will be looking to add to Friday’s signing of Robert Snodgrass from West Ham.
The Baggies confirmed after the match that Charlie Austin is joining QPR on loan, depleting Allardyce’s attacking options further as he bids to secure an unlikely Premier League survival.
West Brom are six points adrift of safety and their only two goals from open play under Allardyce have come from central defender Ajayi, who also netted in their 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
“My job now, having looked at the full squad nearly, is to raise as much as money as we can and get as many players as we can in January,” Allardyce told BBC Sport.
“I’m in no doubt about that now having been here the last few weeks and seen what I’ve seen.
“I’m happy with the application and the effort but what we are not good at is keeping a clean sheet and at the other end we are not good at scoring a goal so I’ve got to sort both of those areas out.”
Albion had conceded nine goals in their past two Premier League games and were breached on the break for both of Blackpool’s goals, while Maxwell was largely untroubled until his shootout heroics.
“Unfortunately our penalties were not of the right quality to win us the game. We failed in even that department today,” added Allardyce.
Blackpool manager Critchley told BBC Sport: “I couldn’t be happier with all the boys today, from the goalkeeper to the subs who came on – everyone contributed for us.
“We’ve not had a great record in penalty shootouts this season, so it’s nice to win one.”
On who he wants to face next, the former Liverpool Under-23s boss replied: “Liverpool.”
- 26BallardBooked at 37minsSubstituted forEkpitetaat 90′minutes
- 23GrétarssonSubstituted forMitchellat 99′minutes
- 19KempSubstituted forVirtue-Thickat 82′minutes
- 18WardSubstituted forRobsonat 115′minutes
- 30LubalaSubstituted forKaikaiat 75′minutes
- 14MadineBooked at 80mins
- 22PeltierSubstituted forO’Sheaat 96′minutes
- 5BartleySubstituted forSawyersat 61′minutes
- 20IvanovicSubstituted forKipréat 72′minutes
- 3GibbsSubstituted forFurlongat 45′minutes
- 6AjayiBooked at 16mins
- 18GallagherBooked at 47minsSubstituted forEdwardsat 61′minutes
- 12Costa Pereira
Match ends, Blackpool 2(3), West Bromwich Albion 2(2).
Penalty Shootout ends, Blackpool 2(3), West Bromwich Albion 2(2).
Penalty saved! Matheus Pereira (West Bromwich Albion) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, left footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
Penalty missed! Still Blackpool 2(3), West Bromwich Albion 2(2). Sullay Kaikai (Blackpool) hits the left post with a right footed shot.
Goal! Blackpool 2(3), West Bromwich Albion 2(2). Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Goal! Blackpool 2(3), West Bromwich Albion 2(1). Gary Madine (Blackpool) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the high centre of the goal.
Penalty saved! Darnell Furlong (West Bromwich Albion) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom right corner.
Goal! Blackpool 2(2), West Bromwich Albion 2(1). James Husband (Blackpool) converts the penalty with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Penalty saved! Kyle Edwards (West Bromwich Albion) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the centre of the goal.
Goal! Blackpool 2(1), West Bromwich Albion 2(1). Kenneth Dougall (Blackpool) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.
Goal! Blackpool 2, West Bromwich Albion 2(1). Kamil Grosicki (West Bromwich Albion) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.
Penalty saved! Jerry Yates (Blackpool) fails to capitalise on this great opportunity, right footed shot saved in the bottom left corner.
Penalty Shootout begins Blackpool 2, West Bromwich Albion 2.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Blackpool 2, West Bromwich Albion 2.
Romaine Sawyers (West Bromwich Albion) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Sullay Kaikai (Blackpool).
Attempt blocked. Matthew Virtue-Thick (Blackpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Demetri Mitchell (Blackpool) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by James Husband.
Dangerous play by Filip Krovinovic (West Bromwich Albion).
Demetri Mitchell (Blackpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
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