Keith Southern believes Blackpool’s experience and know-how will see them over the line in tomorrow’s play-off final.
The former Blackpool favourite knows exactly what it takes to get the job done at Wembley, having been part of two promotion winning sides.
He played in the Seasiders’ 2-0 League One play-off final win against Yeovil Town in 2007 as well as the legendary 3-2 victory against Cardiff City three years later – a win that took Ian Holloway’s men to the promised land of the Premier League.
Things may have gone southwards since that memorable day in the capital but Blackpool now have a chance to secure a return to League One at the first time of asking.
“I fancy Blackpool, I really do,” Southern said.
“They beat Exeter on the first day of the season, although that was a long time ago now. Then they got that draw down there when they were 2-0 up but let it slide. So they’ve got good form against them in recent games.
“I just feel with the experience they’ve got with the likes of Neil Danns, Andy Taylor, Tom Aldred and Sam Slocombe, you’ve got a nucleus of players who may not have won at Wembley but have promotions on their CVs and know how to win at that level.
“There’s also goals in the team and Mark Cullen’s form has been excellent of late. I think he’s been underused as well this season. He could and should have been utilised a lot more.
“But I do expect them to go up. I don’t think it’ll be easy because Exeter are a good side and the big pitch might suit the passing football Paul Tisdale likes to play, but ultimately I do expect Blackpool to get the job done. I’ll be hugely disappointed if they lose the game.
“There’s some young lads in the squad as well with Jack Payne, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Kelvin Mellor which can be good as well; you need a blend.
“But I think it’s important that the big, experienced guys stand up and be counted. They’ve certainly done that in recent weeks.”
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Another Wembley win would confirm Blackpool’s status as play-off specialists, having clinched promotion in four of their previous seven campaigns.
That’s a record that can only work in Blackpool’s favour according to Southern.
He added: “The record really is impressive, isn’t it?
“In my time being affiliated with the club we had three Wembley appearances in just six seasons. This will now be the fourth Wembley appearance in 10 years.
“They’re pretty used to winning. I know when I first joined in 2002 the club had gone up through the play-offs the previous season after beating Leyton Orient so the football club is steeped in play-off history.
“When the stats, history and omans tend to be on your side it bodes well. But ultimately it’s how you play on the day.
“You need an injury free squad, you need all the big players available and you want everyone in good spirits because you only get one crack at it.
“It really is a heartbreaking experience to lose and I’ve experienced both sides of it. It’s never nice being on the losing side but you’ve got to go and give it your best shot.”