Blackpool v Oxford United RECAP: Updates from decisive second leg of League One play-off semi-final

Blackpool take a commanding 3-0 lead into tonight's second leg of their play-off semi-final against Oxford United.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Friday, 21st May 2021, 9:52 pm
Tonight promises to be a special occasion, as 4,000 Blackpool fans return to Bloomfield Road
Tonight promises to be a special occasion, as 4,000 Blackpool fans return to Bloomfield Road

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Blackpool v Oxford United LIVE

Last updated: Friday, 21 May, 2021, 19:24

  • FT: Blackpool 3-3 Oxford United (6-3 on aggregate)
  • Seasiders take commanding three-goal lead into decisive second leg
  • Spot in the League One play-off final on the line
  • 4,000 Seasiders to return to Bloomfield Road

And welcome to tonight’s live blog, where we’ll bring you all the build-up, team news and action from the second leg of Blackpool’s play-off semi-final against Oxford United.

Follow the blog for regular updates throughout the night.

The Seasiders are 90 minutes away from confirming their place in the League One play-off final.

Neil Critchley’s side take a commanding 3-0 lead into tonight’s decisive second leg after producing a scintillating display at the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday night.

Ellis Simms was at the double to make it five goals in three games after Ollie Turton had opened the scoring with his first goal of the season.

Blackpool - the play-off Kings - are also looking to build on their already imperious record in the end-of-season competition. The Seasiders’ win at Oxford on Tuesday night made it 17 wins from the 24 play-off games they’ve taken part in, while they’re also unbeaten in the last 11 semi-final ties.

Should the Seasiders get over the line and complete the job, they’ll face either Lincoln City or Sunderland in the Wembley final on Sunday, May 30.

The Imps take a 2-0 lead into tomorrow’s second leg at the Stadium of Light.

Luke Garbutt suffered a back injury during last night's play-off clash at the Kassam

Blackpool will be hopeful of having Luke Garbutt fit and available for tonight’s game despite the left-back suffering a back injury during Tuesday night’s first leg.

According to Neil Critchley, Garbutt (above) felt better on Wednesday and, should he come through training unscathed, he would be considered for selection.

The same applies to Sullay Kaikai, who missed the first leg with a hamstring injury he suffered in the recent 1-0 win against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. Like Garbutt, Kaikai could come back into contention should he come through training without any problems.

Elsewhere, Grant Ward is unlikely to feature once again as a result of the calf injury he also suffered against Sunderland. While he’s making good progress, tonight’s game will come too soon for the midfielder. But should Pool make it to the play-off final, he could still play a part.

Daniel Gretarsson, Matty Virtue and CJ Hamilton all remain sidelined and will play no part in Blackpool’s play-off campaign. The same also applies to Bez Lubala, who is unavailable due to a ‘club matter’.

Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

“There was a feeling of a job well done the other night, but there were certainly no over-the-top celebrations.

“It was ‘yes, we’ve managed to carry out the plan we wanted on Tuesday’ which obviously got us a good result, but the message straight away in the dressing room was to finish the job off on Friday.

“The excitement for Friday is that we’re at home, we’re in a good position in a two-legged time and we’re playing in front of our supporters.

“We’re under no illusions of the task we’ve got in front of us. We’ve put ourselves in a good position, but it’s at the halfway stage and the play-offs throw up many, many ups and downs, twists and turns and dramas.

“I remember watching Cheltenham against Northampton last season and second legs are notorious for throwing up the unexpected.

“We’ll do what we’ve always done, talk about the things we can do better and when we take to the pitch on Friday night, we’ll be in the right frame of mind and ready to go.”

Karl Robinson’s pre-match comments

Oxford boss Karl Robinson

“I’m not sure what people want me to say but there is a chance, of course there is a chance - and while that chance is there you have to believe you can take it.

“I’ve watched Tuesday night’s game back. I watched it on my own after the game that night then we watched it together early on Wednesday morning.

“On the night someone mentioned ‘three-and-a-half minutes of madness’ that cost us and I didn’t really register what was said but having watched the game back it was much closer than I thought on the night - same number of shots, similar number of chances but they took theirs and we didn’t.

“So now we have a very difficult job on Friday night but we don’t mind being written off. We were written of after 10 games when we were bottom of the league, we were written off again when we lost to Sunderland and Accrington at Easter and now people have written us off once again after Tuesday. We’ll see.

“I think it’s six times this season we've scored three or more goals away. We scored three against Gillingham in 16 minutes. If you look at a lot of our performances away from home then there is still something for us to play for.

“Our task is made harder because of the injuries to Sam Long, Sam Winnall and Cameron Brannagan, we will wait and see on them. But whoever plays we will be up for it and we will give it a real go.”

Tonight promises to be a special occasion for a number of reasons.

Not only can the Seasiders complete the job and book their place in the Wembley play-off final tonight, they’ll also be playing in front of Blackpool fans for the first time since September.

Neil Critchley’s men have played the vast majority of their games behind closed doors this season due to the pandemic.

In September, 1,000 Pool fans attended a test event in their team’s second game of the season against Swindon Town, which the Seasiders won 2-0.

That’s the only time Blackpool have played in front of fans on home turf this season, although they did play in front of 1,000 Shrewsbury Town supporters in December for another pilot event.

Tonight, though, 4,000 Seasiders will be spread across Bloomfield Road’s four stands. The atmosphere should be electric!

Not long until the fans arrive

Seasiders to pay their respects

Blackpool’s players will wear special t-shirts during the warm-up to pay tribute to young Jordan Banks.

A minute’s applause will also be held prior to kick-off.

#RIPLittleMan

Here’s the Oxford side

Luke Garbutt is fit enough to start on his 28th birthday having recovered from a back injury which forced him off during the first leg.

Critchley opts to make just one change to his side from Tuesday night, replacing Keshi Anderson with Demetri Mitchell.

Anderson drops down to the bench, presumingly rested having only just returned from a four-month lay-off.

Elsewhere, neither Grant Ward or Sullay Kaikai are risked, despite both making good progress in their recovery from injury.

Daniel Gretarsson, Matty Virtue and CJ Hamilton also remain sidelined and will miss the remainder of Blackpool’s play-off campaign, as will Bez Lubala who is still unavailable due to a ‘club matter’.

Oxford, meanwhile, make one change from the first leg, as Anthony Forde replaces Jamie Hanson at right-back.

Cameron Brannagan, who hobbled off with a hamstring strain on Tuesday, is fit enough to start, but Sam Winnall - who also took a knock to his hamstring - is left out.

Neil Critchley’s tangerine army

Here come the players

Critch applauds the fans

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