BLACKPOOL host Solihull Moors in Tuesday night’s FA Cup 2nd Round replay and lower league lover Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his best bet.
Blackpool v Solihull Moors | Tuesday 18th December 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
Despite being two divisions below their opponents, Solihull Moors deserved to avoid defeat in the 0-0 draw played in front of the BBC cameras earlier this month.
They would have gone ahead in an impressive first half, had Alex Gudger not been dubiously ruled offside when netting from Darren Carter’s cross.
While goalkeeper Ryan Boot was called upon more often after the interval, they still had a spell of pressure towards the end with Jamey Osborne having his shot blocked.
The Moors deserve great credit for a competitive performance in what was a lively, entertaining cup tie, even if the quality of shooting from both sides left something to be desired.
The Arsenal carrot
Since that draw, it has been announced that the victors of the Second Round replay will be rewarded with a Third Round hosting of Unai Emery’s Arsenal.
If that news favours any team, it is probably Solihull Moors.
Of course, the glamour clash might be an incentive for Blackpool; however, they possess a relatively experienced squad with seven players who have performed at Championship level before.
Plus, they went to North London in October to face the same opposition and were credited for a spirited performance.
While it would be a good experience to face Arsenal again nine weeks later, it would not necessarily be an unbelievable one.
By contrast, Solihull Moors only possess three players who have ever played above League Two level.
One is Darren Carter, who played in the top two divisions for Birmingham, West Brom and Preston in his younger days, while the other two are Kwame Thomas and Jermaine Hylton, who played a few games in League One.
For Moors, therefore, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
We saw in the initial clash at the Autotech Stadium evidence as to why Tim Flowers’ side have kept 12 National League clean sheets – the joint-second most in their division.
Kyle Storer, although known to be overly-aggressive at times, showed great intelligence out of possession and shepherded Blackpool’s attacks into unthreatening wide areas.
Carter, an influential figure on and off the field, offered great positional awareness as well as his dead ball threat.
Left-back Jamie Reckord also offered an impressive array of qualities in and out of possession while right-back Tyrone Williams put in a solid shift too.
They have a key leader in Liam Daly while his centre-back partner, Gudger, defends with no frills.
Although Port Vale loanee Boot can make big saves at important times, Moors are structurally so well-drilled that they allow their opponents few chances.
Banana-skin for Blackpool?
Blackpool have, themselves, been defensively strong this season, conceding just 21 goals in as many League One games.
Attacking-wise however, a large proportion of their 25 league goals have come from a combination of set pieces, crosses and counter-attacks.
Moors have a rear-guard set up perfectly to dominate aerial duels and are unlikely to offer space in behind.
We could therefore have a situation in which the Tangerines have a grip on the middle third – midfield Jay Spearing offers unrelenting tenacity – but struggle to find the type of creativity required to unlock the visiting rear-guard.
Terry McPhillips’ troops have only scored two goals in their last four games in all competitions – and they failed to hit the target in the second half of Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Oxford, despite being two goals behind throughout that period.
There is uncertainty over the first eleven here; McPhillips has recently received criticism for making a lot of changes to the side.
The Seasiders are likely to be without utility man Oliver Turton, while key centre-back Curtis Tilt is a fitness doubt.
The Betting Angle
These two sides were evenly-matched in the first meeting; the fact Blackpool now have home advantage is cancelled out by the news of the draw against Arsenal, which we reckon favours Moors psychologically.
The Midlanders will give everything to grasp this wonderful chance to face one of the biggest clubs in Europe, which should see them elevate their performance levels to neutralize the two-division gap.
For that reason, we see Betfair’s 7/2 on Solihull Moors to qualify – whether after 90 minutes, extra-time or a penalty shoot-out – to be excellent value.
Blackpool v Solihull Moors – Solihull Moors to qualify (7/2 Betfair)