Brett Ormerod column: Blackpool's play-off final caps a fantastic first full season for Neil Critchley
Sunday is one big, massive chance for the manager and his players to write themselves into Blackpool history.
Lincoln City have had a fantastic season themselves and have been up there at the top end for the majority of the campaign.
It’s not going to be an easy game at all, it’s a final so anything can happen.
Whatever happens on Sunday, Neil Critchley has been fantastic in his first full season in charge.
Just to get to the final, especially after the start they had, is some achievement but even back then, they were playing well and dominating games – they just weren’t scoring at one end and conceding too many silly goals at the other.
As the season has gone on, the players have gelled and grown as a football club and as a team.
It was Burton away when everything seemed to click. Jerry Yates got his first goal and hasn’t looked back.
He struck up a good partnership with Gary Madine, and then when he got injured, they had one of the best partnerships in the league at the time.
They brought in Ellis Simms, who has been fantastic and ended the season in superb form.
As a team, they have just gone from strength to strength and got better all the time, so hopefully they’ve got one last game in them to finish the season with glory.
Just looking back at last week’s second leg, what an occasion it was.
We knew it was going to be an entertaining affair because Oxford had to come out and have a go because they were 3-0 down and chasing the game.
When you get an early goal like they did, that could have easily made things a little awkward and put some doubts in the heads of the Blackpool players.
They responded quickly and everything Oxford threw at them, Blackpool seemed to have an answer for.
It was a really good game to watch, especially if you were a neutral. Not so much if you’re involved though, because I was still waiting for that final whistle.
The fact Blackpool responded so quickly to the setbacks last Friday shows you exactly where they are at this moment in time.
They have become a really resilient side and it seems, whenever they need to step it up another gear, they have got it in their locker.
Hopefully that will stand them in good stead for the final.
I was only watching on TV from home but the atmosphere sounded fantastic. It gave me that little glimmer of hope, but football is always better when fans are there.
That’s what football is about, so it was brilliant to see and hopefully there will be full crowds again very soon.
For the club to get back to the Championship would be massive.
It’s taken them time to get back, but to play in the Championship would be brilliant.
The division is as competitive as ever at the moment and there’s some big, big clubs at that level.
As a player, you want to play as high as you can and the Championship is a massive step forward to that.
On the topic of the players, they have got to try and control their emotions this week because they’ve got a job to do but it is a cup final, so it is different.
They’ve got to concentrate on doing the job, which is something they have done well all season.
If they go a goal down, they can’t panic because it’s a 90-minute game. They just need to stick to what they have been doing well and if they can do that, I’m confident they’ll come out on top.
Personally, I think Blackpool are the better team with the better squad, but it’s on the day when it matters – but, hopefully, they’ll be successful.
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