Neil Critchley hails hero Chris Maxwell as Blackpool upset West Brom in FA Cup

Blackpool v West Bromwich Albion – Emirates FA Cup – Third Round – Bloomfield Road
(Image credit: Richard Sellers)

Blackpool manager Neil Critchley hailed captain and goalkeeper Chris Maxwell as the hero of their FA Cup upset over West Brom but insisted it was a complete team performance which secured victory after a penalty shootout.

Maxwell, playing his first game since December 19 after being struck by coronavirus over Christmas, returned in style as he made three saves in the deciding shootout, denying Matheus Pereira with the last kick to win it 3-2 after the match finish 2-2 following extra-time.

“It was Maxi’s day today, he was the hero,” Critchley said. “He made a magnificent save in extra-time and then the penalties – I’m delighted for Maxi.

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“He’s very good at anticipating where players are going to put the ball and you always fancy him to save a penalty. He’s pulled off three very good saves and won us the game in the shootout.

“But I wouldn’t want to single anyone out. To a man, right across the board, the team performance was outstanding.”

Maxwell said after the game he had spent several days laid up in bed with the virus over Christmas.

“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.

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“I was lying in bed for about three days and felt really, really lethargic so it’s nice to come through it.

“I think the win was no more than we deserved. We were excellent the whole game. We had to overcome certain obstacles but we stuck at it and even when we conceded in the second half, we rolled our sleeves up and went again.

“In extra-time we were certainly the better team and it would have been awful if we’d lost that today.”

Instead the pain of defeat was felt by West Brom as Sam Allardyce left his former club still looking for a first win in charge of his latest one.

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Having made seven changes to his side to face the League One outfit, and spoken at length about the opportunity he wanted his fringe players to seize, Allardyce watched on as West Brom were outfought for much of the afternoon.

Jerry Yates fired Blackpool ahead with five minutes left in the first half, and though Semi Ajayi headed West Brom level seven minutes into the second half, they needed a late penalty from Pereira after Gary Madine restored the Seasiders’ advantage.

Given West Brom’s dire position in the Premier League, Allardyce may not mourn their exit from the cup for long but it was another disappointing performance for a team in need of a spark – and of reinforcements.

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“I expected us to play better,” Allardyce said. “I didn’t expect us to have to come back from behind twice. I was disappointed – not with the effort of commitment but – with the result and with the quality in the final third.

“It was a great third-round battle and we didn’t expect anything less than what we got off Blackpool. We dealt with a lot of it well but both goals they scored were far too easy from our point of view.

“When it got to penalties we had the best possible start with (David Button) saving the first penalty so I’m hugely disappointed in the penalty takers that have missed.

“When you’re 1-0 up, at the level we’re supposed to be at, we should not have lost on penalties.”

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