IAN Holloway says his Blackpool players have to produce the game of their lives tonight to set up a Wembley date with West Ham in the Championship Play-off final.
The Seasiders take a 1-0 advantage to Birmingham for the semi-final second leg, with a 28,000 sell-out St Andrew’s crowd urging the home side on.
It will be a poisonous atmosphere and Holloway knows his team – likely to be unchanged – have to deal with that as well as a strong Birmingham side to win through to Wembley on Saturday week.
The manager said: “We will have to play probably the best game of our lives to see if we can get to a play-off final once again.
“Birmingham are a very good team and hard to break down, and I think we will be tested a lot more than we were in the first game.
“They had Nikola Zigic (a 6ft 7” striker) on the bench at our place and they have other options they can call on too.
“I don’t think Chris (Hughton, Birmingham’s manager) threw the kitchen sink at us at Bloomfield and no wonder. He knows as well as I do that it is only half time.
“As a manager, you don’t throw everything you’ve got into the first half.
“But the great thing is that they will have to come at us and try to score. They have no choice.
“Hopefully that will leave some spaces for us that we can take advantage by using the ball well, as we always try to do.
“There will be no change in our approach. We will go there with the same gameplan and see if we can score.
“But what we have to make sure is that we handle all their fans screaming at us. We didn’t last time.”
That was a reference to Pool’s 3-0 league defeat at St Andrew’s on New Year’s Eve, and Holloway added: “Barry Ferguson got all uptight and ended up not being on the pitch. I got sent off too and ended up being carried out of the dugout area by two big security blokes. My little legs were swinging in the air.
“I was fuming but the Birmingham fans seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully that won’t happen again tonight.”
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