Blackpool promotion winner always had confidence Neil Critchley's players would find form

Blackpool favourite Gary Taylor-Fletcher always felt it was just a matter of time until they clicked into gear under Neil Critchley.

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 12:30 pm

The Seasiders endured a disastrous start to the campaign, losing six of the opening nine league games in Critchley’s first full season in charge.

Since then, Pool have collected more points than any other side, which saw them rise up the table to finish in third place with 80 points.

It’s been a highly impressive campaign for Critchley and co, but they still have one game remaining in the form of Sunday’s play-off final against Lincoln City – with a spot in the Championship at stake.

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Blackpool's players celebrated play-off semi-final success against Oxford United last week
Blackpool's players celebrated play-off semi-final success against Oxford United last week

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“They’ve just gone from strength to strength,” Taylor-Fletcher told The Gazette.

“They were playing very well at the beginning of the season but just not getting the results they deserved.

“You could see how Critchley wanted to set them up and how he wanted them to play, so it was only a matter of time and a bit of patience from the players to buy into it.

“Now that’s happened, they have been unbelievable and they thoroughly deserve to be in the play-offs.”

Should the Seasiders secure the win at Wembley this weekend, it will be the club’s sixth promotion via the play-offs.

Already the most successful side in the history of England’s play-off system, the men in tangerine will be aiming to improve on an already excellent record when they take on another of Taylor-Fletcher’s former clubs in Lincoln.

Taylor-Fletcher was a member of the victorious promotion-winning squad in 2010, scoring at Wembley to help secure Blackpool’s memorable rise into the Premier League.

In 2012, having spent just one season in the top flight, Taylor-Fletcher also helped Pool to reach the Championship play-off final for a second time, albeit he was absent for the Wembley showpiece against West Ham United.

“Unfortunately, we got beaten against West Ham in 2012 but that was a game where we got robbed in the last minute because it should have been a foul on Baps (Alex Baptiste),” he said.

“We had a similar one where Ludo (Sylvestre) has gone through and the referee has called it back for a foul, otherwise he was clear through on goal.

“At the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be, but the club’s record in the play-offs is unbelievable.”

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