A proud and emotional Neil Critchley on Blackpool's Wembley win over Lincoln City to secure promotion to the Championship
Neil Critchley believes the manner of Blackpool’s play-off final triumph was the perfect epitomisation of their season.
The Seasiders got off to the worst possible start, conceding a freak only goal after just 48 seconds during Sunday’s Wembley final against Lincoln City
But Critchley’s men composed themselves and responded in the best way possible, turning the game on its head thanks to two goals from the unlikely source of Kenny Dougall.
Pool saw out the remainder of the game in a professional manner to secure promotion to the Championship, winning the play-offs for the sixth time in the club’s history.
“The game epitomised our season,” Critchley told The Gazette.
“How not to start a play-off final, eh? It was the worst possible start for us.
“But the character the players showed and the calmness brought us back into the game.
“The way the team played the game and not the occasion, and I know that’s a cliche, but we did that and we stuck to what we had spoken about.
“We’ve had a lot to deal with over the last 24 hours with circumstances out of our control, with the injury to Ellis Simms, but the players take on board everything I ask them to do, they’re so adaptable.
“Because they’re humble, they give absolutely everything and I’m just so proud of the group.”
Blackpool’s pre-match plans went out of the window inside the opening minute, as Ollie Turton inadvertently directed the ball into the back of his own net.
Reflecting on the horror start, Critchley said: “It was a horrendous start. I wanted to jump down a big hole to be honest!
“You talk about managing the first five or 10 minutes of a game, that all goes out of the window after 40 seconds.
“I have to, the response was so good. We were so calm and we played our way back into the game.
“We grew in confidence and the experience we had against Oxford in the semi-final in the second leg stood us in good stead for that, having conceded so early on.
“We’ve done it all season. We’ve got a bouncebackability that is a great trait to have and we’ve done it again.”
After edging ahead, the Seasiders enjoyed an impressive control over the game, limiting the Imps to very few chances, if any.
“They had that one chance where they put it over the bar, but we learnt from the game we played against them previously,” Critchley said.
“We were 2-0 up and they scored two in the last 15 minutes.
“My plan was to always go to 5-3-2 near the end of the game and block the middle of the pitch and put on an extra defender in there, because Lincoln like to play through the middle of you with their movement and attacking players that run between the defenders. They don’t really cross the ball.
“That was the plan to see the game out and we did it, so I’m really thankful for that.”
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