Aaron Willoughby and Joe Grey got the goals and Brad Young saved a dramatic last minute penalty as Pools came from behind to win 2-1 at Accrington Stanley in the FA Youth Cup on Monday night.
The youngsters looked to be up against it at The Wham Stadium when Stanley skipper Charlie Ridge fired them in front eight minutes before half time in the First Round tie.
However, Ian McGuckin’s side rallied after the break and Willoughby levelled just after the hour mark before Grey’s decisive strike arrived nine minutes later.
There was late drama in store though as the hosts spurned a golden opportunity to equalise in the 89th minute when Pools keeper Brad Young produced a great save to keep out Jack Doherty’s penalty.
It was the home side who settled in to the game better in the early stages and Gabe Ellis had a couple of sights of goal but could not find a way past Young.
However, chances were at a premium during a competitive first half and it wasn’t until the 37th minute that Stanley nudged in front when Ridge smashed a decisive finish past Young and in to the net.
Young made a crucial save to keep the score at just 1-0 a minute before the break when full-back Jack McKinlay had done well to get into the penalty area.
Pools began the second half with more tempo and came close to levelling when Jay Gibson was denied by home keeper Liam Isherwood.
However, the leveller arrived on 64 minutes when Aaron Willoughby got on the end of a ball in to box and slotted a great finish past Isherwood to make it 1-1.
The turnaround was complete on 73 minutes as Grey produced some nifty footwork and a clinical finish in to the bottom corner to make it 2-1 to McGuckin’s youngsters.
An offside flag came to Pools rescue six minutes from time to deny Kevin Spinelli a leveller before Young took centre-stage in the final minutes to preserve the lead.
The teenage keeper first pulled off a wonderful save to stop Doherty’s penalty after McKinlay had been tripped in the box before then producing a sensational save in injury time to frustrate Stanley substitute Warren Sung.
“We rode our luck in the game and Accrington found a player in Brad Young who was in unbelievable form to keep us in it,” admitted McGuckin.
“It was one-way traffic for the majority of the contest but Brad was on top of his game and the lads hung in there and battled for everything.
“We managed to take the chances that came our way and found a way to win – and that’s the name of the game in cup football so we’ll look forward to the next round now.”
Pools will now face a trip to South Shields in the Second Round of the prestigious competition.
Full Time: Accrington Stanley 1 Pools 2
Pools: Young, Wilson, Thompson, Pilling, Webster, Campbell, Gibson, Leonard, Shepherd (Sturdy 75), Willoughby, Grey.
Subs not used: Lowerson, James, Naisbett.