Steve Cooper’s gamble backfires as Blackpool fight for victory over Nottingham Forest

Blackpool's CJ Hamilton congratulates his team on scoring their team's third goal during the Emirates FA Cup third round match between Blackpool and Nottingham Forest at Bloomfield Road on January 7, 2023. - Dave Howarth/Getty Images

Blackpool’s CJ Hamilton congratulates his team on scoring their team’s third goal during the Emirates FA Cup third round match between Blackpool and Nottingham Forest at Bloomfield Road on January 7, 2023. – Dave Howarth/Getty Images

Two goals in seven minutes in the second half saw championship contenders Blackpool take their first win in 10 matches, while Steve Cooper’s effort to change the whole team backfired spectacularly.

Leading Marvin Ekpiteta’s first-half, Blackpool pairing Ian Poveda and CJ Hamilton were well on their way in quick succession to guarantee an upset.

The first of these goals, in the 64th minute, came from an error by Forest fullback Neco Williams, whose attempted pass from defense flew straight to replace Jerry Yates.

He moved to the left before crossing to Poveda to score from close range at the far post.

And with Forest’s hopes of salvaging something from the third round, Kenny Dougall set Hamilton up for a killer third as the Blackpool man jumped in behind Williams and achieved a glorious low finish.

A pathetic, ultimately embarrassing afternoon for Forest ended in the 87th minute when Yates was unmarked in Poved’s corner and drove the ball into the roof of the goal from 12 yards out.

The decision to make 11 changes from a major midweek win over Southampton might have been logical, especially with this week’s EFL Cup quarter-final against Wolves, but it proved costly as Blackpool took the lead after 18 minutes.

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper - Steve Cooper's gamble backfires as Blackpool fight for victory over Nottingham Forest - Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper – Steve Cooper’s gamble backfires as Blackpool fight for victory over Nottingham Forest – Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

The relatively unfamiliar defense couldn’t handle Blackpool’s corner and Hamilton won the ball, rushing to the touchline where his cross landed on Shayne Lavery.

The first shot was blocked, the ball broke and unmarked Ekpiteta, who was still in the middle of the field after a set piece, swept it into the goal.

The goal was the reward for Blackpool’s ambitious opener, but Forest, with impressive new Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Scarpa, dominated the remainder of the first half.

The closest to equalizing was Emmanuel Dennis, just five minutes after Ekpiteta’s goal, when he skilfully made space in the box and curled his shot over the crossbar.

And home host Chris Maxwell had to show a confident lead to save Scarpa’s long shot and an effort from Neco Williams later in the half.

Forest maintained their dominance after the restart, albeit with similarly frustrating results, when Sam Surridge set the tone by shooting from six yards with a difficult chance from a Dennis cross.

Harry Toffolo crossed in behind Lewis O’Brien who shot wide, stretching to catch the ball before Scarpa got the ball and launched a brilliant counterattack in the 57th minute.

His well-placed pass played into Dennis, whose shot was brilliantly blocked by a stretching Maxwell, and Ekpiteta continued the afternoon’s good work, charging in from O’Brien’s attempt.

Forest would soon pay for these wasted chances as the Championship team ended up tied.

In injury time, Forest substitute Ryan Yates led Forest’s consolation from the center of the Blackpool area with a Toffolo cross.

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