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Blackpool - road to the play-off final
Published : 18 May 2012 13:51:41Rss feed
After a terrific year in the Premier League, Blackpool slipped back down to the Championship on the final day of the season.
When they lost key players such as Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan many people felt that it would signal the end of their excellent run and possibly burst the Blackpool bubble.
The ever charismatic Ian Holloway replaced his star players with experienced veterans like Barry Ferguson and Kevin Phillips.
'King Kev' has managed to notch 17 goals for the Tangerines this campaign despite being considered past his best at 38-years-old.
The emergence of highly-rated youngsters Tom Ince and Matt Phillips have complimented the experienced pros.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Stephen Crainey, Alex Baptiste, Ian Evatt and Matt Gilks were all vital players for the club when they were promoted via the play-offs two seasons ago.
Blackpool started the season with a Friday-night curtain-raiser win over Hull City, courtesy of a goal from Taylor-Fletcher.
They tasted defeat for the first time later that month after a home loss to Derby County, before a dramatic comeback draw away at Brighton days later.
An emphatic 5-0 win over Bristol City was one of their early season highlights, but they were brought back down to earth just days later with a 4-0 defeat at West Ham.
Blackpool travelled to Elland Road to face Leeds and former manager Simon Grayson, the first time since he left in 2006.
Former goalkeeper Paul Rachubka's errors set Blackpool on their way to a thumping 5-0 win.
At the turn of the year the Tangerines hit impressive form with a seven game unbeaten spell, until once again they suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Saturdays's opponents West Ham.
After losing 3-1 to Reading on March 24, Blackpool would remain unbeaten throughout April and ended the season with another seven game undefeated streak and secured a play-off spot with a 5th place finish.
Blackpool would face Birmingham in the play-off semi finals.
A 1-0 aggregate lead from the first leg gave them a huge advantage and they raced into a 2-0 lead at St. Andrews to put them 3-0 up.
Birmingham pulled two goals back, but it was not enough and Blackpool secured their place at Wembley with a 3-2 aggregate win.
Blackpool v West Ham - match preview
Blackpool - West Ham play-off history
Importance of the play-offs