FULL TIME: Wanderers 2 Blackpool 1
JERMAINE Beckford’s love affair with the FA Cup continued as he struck the winner for Wanderers against local rivals Blackpool.
The striker scored for the fifth year running in the third round – all for different clubs – to give the Whites a morale-boosting win and a place in round four.
Beckford had scored at this stage of the competition for Leeds, Everton, Leicester and Huddersfield in the last four years.
His record in the FA Cup overall now stands at an astonishing 17 goals in 20 games.
Playing two up front, Wanderers attacked with energy for the first hour but somehow found themselves level at the break when Tom Barkhuizen curled home to level David Ngog’s second goal in as many games.
From the first whistle they were unrecognisable from the side who had stuttered through the festive period.
Andre Moritz set the early tone with a mesmerising run on the edge of the box but the movement around the Brazilian playmaker was causing Blackpool no end of problems.
Chris Eagles should have opened the scoring after getting on the end of Neil Danns’ cross from the right, only to scuff his shot.
Alex Baptiste then had a dipping shot parried by Matt Gilks, Moritz having his follow-up blocked by Craig Cathcart on the line.
Wanderers made the breakthrough after 10 minutes in spectacular fashion. David Ngog collected the ball 30 yards out and turned towards goal before unleashing a fearsome shot into the top left corner that Gilks could only stand and admire.
Jermaine Beckford got goal side of Gary Mackenzie a few moments later, firing his shot straight at Gilks when he had support either side through Ngog and Eagles.
And the one way traffic continued as Catchcart was forced into another goal-saving block, this time from Eagles after his keeper had saved Moritz’s initial effort.
Blackpool’s fans aimed their anger towards manager Paul Ince – but as they chanted their side nearly conceded a second, Moritz’s 30-yard free kick whistling just past the post.
There was a lull before the break as the visitors stabilised. One cross from Neal Bishop forced Andy Lonergan to dive full length to punch the ball away.
And on the stroke of half time Blackpool grabbed an equaliser. Tom Barkhuizen, making only his second start for the club, curled home a superb shot from 20 yards out after cutting in from the right.
The linesman ruled the goal out initially because Ricardo Fuller had been standing in an offside position which may have obscured Lonergan’s view.
Referee Simon Hooper disagreed and after a brief chat with his assistant, ruled that the goal stood. The Wiltshire official was surrounded instantly by Whites’ players and blew for half time almost instantly.
Though annoyed by the way his side had conceded, Freedman must have been praying for more of the same in the second half and thankfully, that is what he got.
Just five minutes after the players got back out on to the pitch a long ball from the back set Ngog down the left and he outpaced the defender before giving Beckford a tap in six yards out to extend his incredible scoring record in the competition.
Eagles twice went close to extending the lead and had he done so, it would have spared a few fingernails in the final 25 minutes.
Blackpool pushed forward, forcing the Whites into some frantic defending at times.
After Tom Ince had got the better of Ream he had a shot deflected wide via Matt Mills and Lonergan. From the corner, Cathcart blazed over from close range.
Former Wanderers youth product Chris Basham then did his upmost to force a replay – heading on to the outside of the post after Lonergan had pushed away a shot from Fuller and then forcing the Whites keeper into a world class save himself after getting a toe on Bishop’s angled shot.
At the other end, Chung-Yong Lee came off the bench to smash a volley against the woodwork – but it was fraught football at the end as Freedman’s side clung on to their lead by the skin of their teeth.
Danns had a chance to seal his second debut with a goal right at the death, sweeping a low shot straight at Gilks, but it didn’t matter in the end as goals from Wanderers’ front two booked a place in the next round.