'The players deserve this moment': A proud and emotional Neil Critchley reflects on Blackpool reaching the League One play-off final
A date at Wembley is the reward Blackpool’s players deserve for their mammoth efforts this season according to Neil Critchley.
The Seasiders booked their spot in the League One play-off final with a breathless, topsy-turvy 3-3 draw against Oxford United in the second leg of their play-off semi-final.
It means Critcley’s men progress into the final 6-3 on aggregate and will face either Lincoln City or Sunderland in the showpiece final on Sunday, May 30.
“I was thinking ‘here we go’ when they scored after seven minutes,” Critchley said.
“But I actually thought we started the first five minutes of the game really well and then we gave away a daft free-kick away in the corner, which we didn’t need to do.
“We didn’t defend the wide free-kick very well and two of the goals were from wide free-kicks, which I was really disappointed in.
“But I have to say, our response to when they scored was outstanding.
“We were very good in the first-half, we played very well. We managed the game well and scored good goals at vital times. We had some good chances, too.
“We do the same in the second-half, scoring straight after they got it back to 2-2, but I was disappointed again with the third goal.
“But you can get that in play-off games, it can happen. They throw men forward and they can really go for it.
“I thought Oxford were excellent by the way, they were a real credit to Karl (Robinson). Their players never gave up and played some really good football.
“But my thoughts are with my players tonight and they deserve this moment, they deserve to go to Wembley.
“Hopefully we can go there and win and finish the job off.”
It was another memorable play-off occasion at Bloomfield Road, as 4,000 Seasiders returned after 14 months away to make a raucous atmosphere.
Critchley, who has become accustomed to his side playing games behind closed doors during this pandemic-hit campaign, was visibly emotional as he saluted the Blackpool fans at the final whistle.
“It was unbelievable,” Pool’s head coach said.
“Was that 4,000 in the ground? We might have to check that because it felt and sounded like 40,000.
“There weren’t any quiet moments in the game, it was incredible. The support was unbelievable.
“They got behind the team, when they scored they still got behind us and roared us on and I can hear them outside now and I hope it goes long into the night, because they deserve this moment.
“We now want to go to Wembley and win for them.”
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