MATCH REPORT: Luton 3-3 Blackpool (5-6)
A dramatic stoppage time own goal broke the hearts of Luton Town and sent Blackpool to Wembley.
Hatters goalkeeper Stuart Moore inadvertently sent the ball into his own net in the final minute of stoppage time to give Blackpool a 6-5 aggregate win, with the two sides drawing 3-3 on the night in what was yet another topsy turvy, end-to-end game.
The Seasiders will now take on Exeter City in the play-off final at Wembley on Sunday, May 28.
Blackpool made a positive start to the game, making it clear from the outset they had no intentions of sitting on their one-goal lead from the first leg.
Brad Potts had the first opening when he found himself in some space in the area after a quick one-two with Nathan Delfouneso but the Luton defence recovered to clear from inside the six-yard box.
The Seasiders had to withstand a short spell of pressure before hitting the hosts on the break to extend their advantage to two goals thanks to a swift counter attack.
Nathan Delfouneso was the man who calmly slotted home from close range after getting on the end of Mark Cullen’s pinpoint cross.
The home fans were up in arms looking for a penalty when Danny Hylton went down in the box but referee Darren Deadman waved away the appeals.
Luton were seeing plenty of the ball but struggled to create any real opportunities of note, with Gary Bowyer’s men happy to hit them on the break.
One of those breaks saw Jack Payne try his luck from range only to blaze well over from the edge of the box.
It appeared the only way Luton would get back into the tie was through a moment of quality or luck - and it’s the latter that occurred to bring the Hatters level on the night.
Pool failed to clear their lines from a free kick, with the ball richotechting around their box before Alan Sheehan’s close-range shot, which looked to be heading wide, was scrambled into the bottom corner via a deflection off Kelvin Mellor.
This put the winds in Luton’s sail and Pool were forced to withstand a barrage of pressure just before the half-time interval.
A corner found Scott Cuthbert directly in front of goal but the Luton defender could only head onto the foot of the post.
Pool were living dangerously after giving away a series of free kicks in and around their own penalty area and eventually the pressure told.
Cuthbert made amends for his earlier miss by getting across his man to head home from Sheehan’s vicious free kick to level the scores on aggregate.
Luton continued exactly where they left off at the end of the opening period and almost added a third through Hylton, who could only steer wide from close range.
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was found unmarked just inside the Blackpool penalty area but could only side foot high and wide.
The vast majority of the early play at the start of the second half came from the hosts, but Blackpool enjoyed the odd moment - one of which fell to Neil Danns but the experienced midfielder could only drill over with his shot.
The Hatters were then gifted a more than generous spot kick after Danny Hylton went down in the box under the faintest of contact from substitute Ian Black - which was not the first time Hylton went down under no real contact.
Hylton dusted himself down to nonchalantly chip his penalty into the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
The striker then almost made it four when he skewed wide of goal under no real pressure in the Blackpool penalty area after being set up by Olly Lee.
The Seasiders began to see more of the ball in the final 20 minutes, which saw Armand Gnanduillet’s header cleared away from the danger area when it looked destined for the far corner.
Gnanduillet was presented with another header from Cullen’s second pinpoint cross of the night and this time he made no mistake, beating Stuart Moore to the ball to nod into an empty net.
The pendulum swung once again and this time it was Blackpool who were on top, with the Seasiders almost making it 3-3 on the night when Bright Osayi-Samuel skied over from close range when it looked easier to score.
It was the visitors who looked the more likely to win it at the death in normal time and they almost did when Brad Potts brought a good save out of Stuart Moore. The goalkeeper spilled his effort but no one was there to take advantage.
The final few minutes summed up the whole affair with both sides having chances to win it - the best of which fell to Gnanduillet who fired well over when others were in space.
But the drama didn’t end there, with Clark Robertson scoring the decisive goal in the final minute of injury time to send Blackpool to Wembley.
Luton: Moore, Justin, Rea, Cuthbert, Sheehan, D.Potts, Lee (Cook), D'Ath, Mpanzu, Vassell, Hylton
Subs not used: King, O'Donnell, Smith, Gambin, Marriott, Palmer
Blackpool: Slocombe, Mellor, Aimson, Aldred, Robertson, Taylor (Osyai-Samuel), Danns, Payne (Black), Potts, Delfouneso (Gnanduillet), Cullen
Subs not used: Lyness, Nolan, Flores, Philliskirk
Referee: Darren Deadman
Attendance: 10,032 (461 Blackpool)