Leading EFL pundit backs Blackpool to win League One play-offs - but former Seasider Kevin Phillips opts for Sunderland

EFL pundits have been having their say on who will win the League One play-offs.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:49 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 12:52 pm

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It comes after Blackpool beat Bristol Rovers 1-0 yesterday to secure a third-placed finish, which sets up a semi-final tie over two legs with Oxford United.

The U's leapfrogged Portsmouth into sixth place after thrashing Burton Albion 4-0, while Pompey were beaten at home by Accrington Stanley.

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Sunderland will take on Lincoln City in the other semi-final.

The four sides were discussed on Sunday's edition of Quest's EFL highlights show.

Presenter Colin Murray predicted Lincoln City would come out on top, but leading EFL pundit Ali Maxwell plumped for the Seasiders.

"I'm going for Blackpool," he said.

Two of Kevin Phillips' former teams have finished in the League One play-offs

"I think they've got the best overall team and there are no problems with mentality, so I'll go for a tangerine dream."

But Kevin Phillips who played for both Blackpool and Sunderland during his stellar career, is backing the Black Cats to make it back to the Championship.

He said: "I've got to back my old club Sunderland, haven't I?

"They've got to do it at some point, so I'll go Sunderland."

Before dreaming of making it to the play-off final, Pool must get past Oxford first.

Neil Critchley's men took four points from their two games against the U's during the season, not conceding a goal.

"This is the best attacking team in the play-offs playing against the best defensive team," Maxwell said.

"Oxford have scored 28 goals in their last 10 games and they've scored three goals or more 14 times this season in the league, which is the most in League One.

"But I should say, none of those times where they've scored three goals or more has been against sides in the top 10, so that's something they need to improve upon.

"Blackpool, of course, have the best defensive record in the league and have kept 22 clean sheets, which speaks for just how well Neil Critchley drills them out of possession.

"If you take out their poor start to the season, over the last 37 games they actually have the best record in League One. Had they started a little quicker, we might be talking about them already having secured promotion to the Championship.

"While they are good defensively, that's not to overlook what they have going forwards, specifically two strikers in really good form and playing well together in Jerry Yates and Ellis Simms.

"Simms scored the winner on Sunday and two in midweek against Doncaster Rovers. He's on loan from Everton in what is his first loan and he's adapted really quickly.

"You can see he's got physicality and pace but an eye for goal as well. Between Simms and Yates they've got 23 goals in their last 26 games, so that's going to be a big test for Oxford's centre-backs."

While Phillips is backing Sunderland, the 47-year-old has been majorly impressed by the job Critchley has done in his first full season at Bloomfield Road.

"It's fantastic he's been given the opportunity and the owner has trust in him," Phillips said.

"He didn't start very well, but they've picked up and been on an unbelievable run and defensively they look so solid.

"The good thing for me is that he's a tactician and he's shown that this season, because he's not been afraid to change his system.

"Every player in their position, whether they're coming off the bench or starting, they know their role in the side.

"They will be very strong in the play-offs."

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