Neil Critchley warns his Blackpool players it's only 'half a job done' after scintillating play-off first leg victory against Oxford United

Neil Critchley has warned his Blackpool players it’s only half-time in their play-off semi-final tie against Oxford United and only half the job is done.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:07 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 9:32 pm

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The Seasiders have one step in the League One final after producing a scintillating display at the Kassam Stadium.

Critchley’s men will take a thoroughly deserved three-goal lead back to Bloomfield Road for the decisive second leg on Friday night.

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Pool, who have still yet to concede against the U’s this season, took a two-goal first-half lead thanks to quickfire goals from Ollie Turton - scoring for the first time this season - and Ellis Simms.

Simms then added a third in the second period, his fifth goal in his last three games, to put the icing on the cake.

The victory means Pool remain unbeaten in their last 11 play-off semi-finals and take their overall play-off record to 17 wins in 24 games.

“Obviously I’d have taken this result before the game,” Critchley said.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley

“I thought Oxford started well, being the home team with the supporters behind them and the momentum they’ve got.

“But we had some good moments ourselves in the first few minutes of the game which we didn’t capitalise on.

“Goals change games and fortunately they went for us. They were good goals, mind, to score three goals and keep a clean sheet is very pleasing.

“You know what I’m going to say though, it’s only half-time and it’s only half a job done.

“Oxford have enough in their squad and you’ve seen that with the ability they’ve got. I think they’re the third highest goalscorers in the divisions and they boast that record for a reason and we’ve managed to restrict them to very little. But they are still capable of scoring goals.”

Blackpool who have yet to concede against Oxford this season, won 2-0 at the Kassam back in March thanks to two set-piece goals.

It was that route which paid dividends once again for their opener, which came via Turton after Elliot Embleton’s dangerous free-kick had caused havoc inside the Oxford box.

“It’s not an accident, certainly not. It’s something we’ve highlighted and practised, because that’s how we prepare,” Critchley added.

“We try to find weaknesses in the opposition and how we can exploit them, what are their strengths and how we can stop them from doing what they want to do.

“The first goal - Turts, bless him - that’s why we put him up there. He has a knack of getting in there and he shows it in training, so that’s why we put him up there. He tapped it in like a centre-forward, didn’t he?

“To score soon after through Ellis, who was a real handful tonight, he was terrific and played like a man, was great.

“But you know the third goal is big in any game. We thought if we defended well they’d give us space and we did have some chances on the counter-attack.

“I thought Jerry with Ellis was a real fantastic goal on the break.”

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