GRAEME LEE hailed super-sub Joe Grey after the 18-year-old stepped off the bench to fire Hartlepool United into the FA Cup fourth round for the first time since 2009.

Moments after replacing Mark Cullen on the hour mark, Grey swept home the winner to seal the League Two side’s come-from-behind 2-1 win over Championship Blackpool.

It was Grey’s second goal in senior football and Lee revealed: “Joe was very close to starting the game but I went with experience rather than physicality.

“I told him he will come on and stretch it. I told him to go and get the winner, but I didn’t expect him to do it in the first couple of minutes.”

Grey’s goal capped a stirring fightback after the hosts had struggled to contain their Championship opponents in the first period after Keshi Anderson’s eighth-minute opener.

David Ferguson’s leveller three minutes into the second half turned the game on its head and Lee, who was delighted to see his side build on their midweek Papa John’s Trophy win over Bolton, is rapidly assembling an impressive record of seeing off higher-division opposition.

The former Middlesbrough academy coach said his side’s recovery was all the more pleasing given his disappointment with some aspects of their first-half display, which could have left them well adrift had the visitors made the most of their chances.

“I didn’t think energy levels were right,” he added. “I had to give them a gee-up at half-time, because I could see we weren’t where we should have been. I wanted more belief and bravery to get back into the game.”

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley admitted his side got what they deserved after failing to make the most of their first-half chances.

Gary Madine and Shayne Lavery were among those who missed clear-cut chances to extend the Seasiders’ advantage in the opening half-hour.

Critchley said: “We’ve had a real taste of what FA Cup football is about and unfortunately we are on the receiving end of the low end of the FA Cup.

“At 1-0 we were in control of the game and we missed some big opportunities to go 2-0 and 3-0 up. What’s cost us is what happened at the start of the second half. We had a 15 to 20-minute period where we weren’t at it – we were totally unrecognisable from a Blackpool team I’ve been in charge of.”

Meanwhile, Southport striker Marcus Carver is set to become Pools’ first signing of this month’s transfer window. The 28-year-old was with the club on Friday finalising his move.