Blackpool relegated to League One after nailbiting defeat to Millwall

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Blackpool’s relegation to League One has been confirmed after two seasons in the Championship.
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No talks yet between Stephen Dobbie and Blackpool over head coach role

The Seasiders realistically needed to win to keep their faint survival hopes alive heading into the final day at Norwich City next weekend and they gave it a good as they got, but once again their efforts weren’t quite enough.

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While 23rd place Blackpool are still three points adrift of safety, they’re now unable to catch both Reading and Huddersfield Town given they play one another on the final weekend.

Blackpool had at least four injury doubts heading into the game and there was some mixed news on that front prior to kick-off.

Jordan Thorniley was ruled out through injury after picking up a tight groin during the 1-0 win against Birmingham City last weekend.

But on a more positive note, Keshi Anderson and Jerry Yates were both passed fit and came straight back into the starting XI.

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James Husband's dejection summed up the mood inside Bloomfield RoadJames Husband's dejection summed up the mood inside Bloomfield Road
James Husband's dejection summed up the mood inside Bloomfield Road

Interim boss Stephen Dobbie made three changes from last weekend’s trip to St Andrew’s.

James Husband was the other man to return alongside Anderson and Yates, while Thorniley, Sonny Carey and Josh Bowler were the three to drop out.

Ian Poveda missed out after being ruled out for the remaining two games with a hamstring injury, which has seen him return early to parent club Leeds United.

Marvin Ekpiteta returned from injury to be named among the substitutes, but Charlie Goode, Liam Bridcutt, Kevin Stewart, Shayne Lavery, Jake Beesley and Gary Madine remain sidelined through injury.

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Luke Garbutt, Dom Thompson and Kenny Dougall were all left out.

As for Millwall, they also made three changes from their surprise 2-1 defeat to bottom side Wigan in their last outing.

Buoyed by a sold out home crowd, the Seasiders almost found themselves through on goal inside 20 seconds when the ball ricocheted to Keshi Anderson, but Millwall recovered to clear their lines.

But a potentially dream start to the game turned into a nightmare in the second minute when the visitors scored with their first attack of the game.

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To Tom Bradshaw’s credit, it was a superbly-taken finish to sweep home with a first-time effort from a pullback from the right.

The early killer blow deflated the previously buoyant and optimistic mood inside Bloomfield Road and the Lions took full advantage, drawing Blackpool into a more physical and direct game which suited them far more.

Millwall almost doubled their lead in the 15th minute through Bradshaw once again, who dragged a shot inches wide of the far post after his snapshot deceived Dan Grimshaw.

The Seasiders were caught out by the most basic of long kicks down the pitch from the Millwall keeper as James Husband got caught under the bounce. Bradshaw latched onto it but, fortunately for Pool, was only able to skew wide.

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The Blackpool goal continued to live a charmed life as George Saville clipped the outside of the post after being given the time and space to turn and shoot inside the box.

Blackpool finally threatened 10 minutes before the interval when Morgan Rogers carved an opening for himself with a great run from the halfway line only to be denied by George Long at his near post.

That seemed to wake the Seasiders up though and, two minutes later, they were gifted a route back into the game when CJ Hamilton was brought down in the box and the referee subsequently pointed to the spot.

Jerry Yates, as he so often does, showed great composure to calmly slot home down the middle to send Bloomfield Road crazy.

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Having looked so abject for the opening half an hour or so, Blackpool ended the half on top as they piled on the pressure - with a pumped up Rogers dragging a shot wide of goal.

As if Blackpool hadn’t been given enough warnings in the first-half, they were lucky to get away with another moment of fortune at the start of the second period when Flemming drifted off Andy Lyons at the back post only to direct his header back across goal and wide.

The Seasiders responded well, going close through Hamilton at the back post before Keshi Anderson gave up the chance to shoot when the ball fell kindly for him on the edge of the box.

A draw was no good to either side, so it was no surprise to see the game open up into a more frantic, end-to-end affair in the second-half.

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Rogers, who was the player causing Millwall the most problems, came close with a rising effort which whisked just over the keeper’s bar.

At the other end, Blackpool were reliant on a crucial James Husband block to deny Flemming as Millwall came close to restoring their lead.

Only a minute later, they did exactly that as Bradshaw bagged his second with a nonchalant chip over the onrushing Grimshaw after the clinical striker had picked out a gap in between Blackpool’s two centre backs.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that would be game over but Blackpool were only behind for seven minutes as they levelled with a goal out of nothing.

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Lewis Fiorini was the man to get them back on level terms for the second time, wellying home from 30 yards with the sweetest of strikes.

But Blackpool gave themselves another mountain to climb 15 minutes from time when Fiorini turned from hero to zero when he conceded a penalty for a blatant trip on Duncan Watmore inside the box.

Despite diving the right way, Grimshaw was beaten by Zian Flemming’s neatly taken penalty which rolled into the bottom corner.

Blackpool had to play the NINE minutes of stoppage time with 10 men after Jordan Gabriel was stretchered off.

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Blackpool: Grimshaw, Gabriel, Nelson, Husband (Bowler), Lyons, Fiorini (Holmes), Patino, Anderson, Rogers, Hamilton (Ekpiteta), Yates

Subs not used: Maxwell, Connolly, Trybull, Carey

Millwall: Long, Hutchinson, Cooper, Shackleton (McNamara), Mitchell, Styles (Malone), Leonard, Saville, Watmore (Bennett), Flemming, Bradshaw (Burey)

Subs not used: Bialkowski, Burke, Vogslammer

Referee: Matthew Donohue

Attendance: 12,191