Delighted Neil Critchley salutes his players as Blackpool beat Doncaster Rovers to book place in League One play-offs with a game to spare

A delighted Neil Critchley has saluted his players after they booked Blackpool’s place in the League One play-offs with a game to spare.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 10:11 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 3:04 pm

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It follows a comfortable 2-0 win against Doncaster Rovers handed to them by a superb Ellis Simms brace.

It’s a magnificent achievement from the Seasiders to finish in the top six, having battled back from their disastrous start where they lost six of their opening nine games.

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Since then, and despite battling injuries, Covid and suspensions, Critchley’s men have remained consistent to now sit in third place in the table ahead of Sunday’s final game of the campaign against Joey Barton’s already relegated Bristol Rovers.

“I’m delighted. It’s been an incredible effort from the players,” Critchley said.

“I’ve just said to them in the dressing room that after the start to the season we had, to be in third position in the league with - and I know a lot of managers will say the same thing - the injuries we’ve had, we had Covid and we carried on, we’ve changed formation a number of times, we’ve adapted to all the things thrown at us to play well on a consistent basis - has been outstanding.

“It’s fantastic we’re in the play-offs, but we’re not done yet.

A delighted Neil Critchley with skipper Chris Maxwell at the final whistle

“I’m really proud of the whole group. From day one we said it was going to be a real squad effort because of the season we’re going to face.

“Players have stepped up when they’ve not been playing, they’ve played out of position when we’ve changed formation, they’ve been unbelievable.

“The consistency we’ve shown from the ninth game of the season has been outstanding and I can’t help but think ‘what could have been’, but we’ve still got a couple of games to go now and hopefully another one.”

Pool only needed a point from their final two games but they guaranteed a play-off finish in some style with a comprehensive victory against Doncaster.

Nevertheless, Pool’s head coach still wasn’t entirely satisfied.

“In the first-half I thought the occasion maybe got to us a little bit, but we turned the ball over too many times for my liking,” Critchley said.

“Our possession play and our control in the games recently has been really good, but tonight it wasn’t.

“Again, that’s nitpicking a little bit but if you give Doncaster the ball they can hurt you.

“We were in some really promising situations and didn’t make the most of them and turned the ball over.

“At half-time we asked the players to play more passes, to be a bit calmer on the ball and the opportunities will present themselves. We did that.

“We created a lot of opportunities in the second-half and you’re thinking the longer it stays at 1-0, if we don’t punish them we might get stung.

“Thankfully Ellis has got the second goal and 2-0 was a fair reflection of the performance.”

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