Chris Maxwell warns Blackpool teammates: We've achieved nothing yet
Blackpool captain Chris Maxwell has warned his teammates their play-off semi-final tie against Oxford United is far from over.
The Seasiders take a commanding three-goal lead into tonight’s decisive second leg after producing a scintillating display at the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday night.
While a side has never recovered from a three-goal deficit in the 36-year history of the play-offs, Maxwell insists the Seasiders can’t afford to become complacent.
“The focus is all on Friday and we’re all looking forward to the game. It’s not over by any means,” the 30-year-old said.
“We’re feeling good and confident but that’s no different to how we’ve felt all season.
“I’m trying to refrain from using the cliché that every player and manager has used in saying it’s only half-time in the tie, but it is. We haven’t achieved anything yet.
“The boys are all really excited and looking forward to the game on Friday night.”
Neil Critchley’s side put themselves into a strong position with a magnificent 3-0 win in the first leg this week.
Ellis Simms scored twice to make it five goals in his last three games after Ollie Turton had given Pool the lead with his first of the campaign.
Maxwell added: “It was a great performance and a great scoreline to take away from the first leg away from home,” Maxwell added.
“But the job’s not done by any means. We’ve learned some tough lessons this season.
“We’ve come a long way and this group has evolved massively through the course of the campaign.
“With the relentless season we’ve had, and especially the relentless period we’ve had of playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday for the best part of three or four months, it’s set us up nicely for these two games.
“The boys are looking forward to it but we’ve got a job to do.”
Maxwell – Blackpool’s player of the season for many – produced a vitally important save to deny Mark Sykes and preserve his side’s two-goal lead in Tuesday’s second half.
Just minutes later, Simms scored Blackpool’s third of the game.
“It was a big moment in the game but there were 15, 20 or 25 other big moments in the game,” the goalkeeper said.
“Every single player contributed. I’m a goalkeeper and that’s what I’m supposed to do – save goals.
“But it was a great all-round team performance, not just from the starting 11 as well. The subs who came on were excellent. Jordan Thorniley came in and Gary Madine, Jordan Gabriel and Demetri Mitchell.
“It was an excellent team performance and a massive reflection of the manager and his staff in terms of how they’ve set us up and approached the game.
“It’s benefited for us ... for the first half of this tie at least.”
Should Blackpool complete the job and confirm their spot in the League One play-off final, they will be able to celebrate the occasion with 4,000 returning Seasiders.
Tonight marks the first game at Bloomfield Road to be played in front of fans since September, when 1,000 supporters attended the test event against Swindon Town, which Pool won 2-0.
Since then, Critchley’s men have only played in one other game with spectators in attendance – the 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town over Christmas.
For some players, tonight will be the first time they’ve even played in front of any Blackpool fans.
Maxwell said: “It’s going to be excellent. It’s been a long time coming.
“It’s an atmosphere I’ve experienced only briefly at the end of last season.
“There will be a few boys in our dressing room who will really enjoy the occasion because of the crowd.
“We were fortunate enough to witness the supporters outside the stadium on the last day of the season but we want to experience those fans being back inside the ground.
“Hopefully they enjoy the game.
“I think the players will be happy because they won’t have to listen to me shouting at them for 90 minutes.
“They won’t be able to hear me as clearly, anyway!
“It’s going to be great, but let’s not stray from the fact it means nothing unless we put on a good performance.
“We’ve got a job to do, so we can’t enjoy the atmosphere and enjoy that type of thing until after the game.
“We’ve got to remain focused and make sure we do what we do.
“We have to carry out the gameplan the manager is expecting of us.”
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