Neil Critchley welcomes back the Blackpool fans and aims to do them proud in Oxford rematch

Neil Critchley has challenged his Blackpool players to produce a performance the returning Seasiders will be proud of.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 8:00 am

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Blackpool boss Neil Critchley keeping a watchful eye over potential play-off fin...

Around 4,000 fans will be at Bloomfield Road tonight for the decisive second leg of Pool’s play-off semi-final against Oxford United (7.45pm kick-off).

With a place in the League One final against Lincoln City or Sunderland on the line and Pool 3-0 up from Tuesday’s away leg, it promises to be a special occasion.

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Neil Critchley congratulates his players after Tuesday's victory at Oxford

“It will mean everything,” head coach Critchley said. “It will be a proud moment to lead a team in a play-off semi-final in front of our magnificent supporters.

“The people around the club who have been here a lot longer than me keep telling me, ‘Just wait until the supporters are back – they’re special, they’re unique and they’re different. The fans get behind the team constantly for 90 minutes home and away’. I’ve only sampled that on a couple of occasions.

“A lot of these players haven’t played in front of Blackpool supporters before, so it will be a special night but we want to make it even more special by giving them a performance they will be proud of.

“We’ve done that on a lot of occasions this season but it’s been disconnected. Tonight we get the chance to be connected.

“I hope the supporters will see a team that gives them everything and I hope they give us everything back in return. I’m sure they will.”

Critchley believes the Pool faithful can help get their side over the line, especially in the dying moments when fatigue is a factor.

“I think the supporters will play a massive part for us,” he said. “On Tuesday, there was no doubt the long, hard season and the emotion of the game played a part.

“Near the end of the game, both teams felt that. There’s not been a big rest period between the games, so I think our supporters will provide our players with that energy and adrenaline boost they’ll need in a game like this.

“You’re more aware of the supporters at the start of the game and in the warm-up because you’ve got a bit more head space and thinking time. During the game, you get a bit more embroiled in the emotions of the match.

“But during the natural flow of a game you’re certainly aware of the supporters.

“I was aware of the Oxford supporters the other night, but I’ll be more aware of our own supporters on Friday night, that’s for certain.”

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