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Winners of League One Playoff Final seal Championship promotion in tense battle

The winners of Sunday afternoon’s League One Playoff Final seal Championship promotion in what was a tense battle between the two sides.

Neil Critchley’s Blackpool faced Michael Appleton’s Lincoln in front of 10,000 fans allowed through the turnstiles at Wembley Stadium this Bank Holiday weekend.

The Imps had previously beat Sunderland in the semi-final whilst the Tangerines knocked out Oxford United in their semi-final encounter.

In the summer sunshine, it really didn’t take a lot of time to find the game’s first goal, 47 seconds to be exact in fact.

The first attack of the game saw Lincoln’s Brennan Johnson get down the right and his low cross was missed by Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell at the near post.

Defender Ollie Turton then trying to clear, only to then turn the ball into his own goal, leaving his with a red face and the crowd stunned. What a howler.

Lincoln boss Michael Appleton did call for his side to make a good start, especially after the team coach ended up arriving late at Wembley because of the London traffic, but they were right at it from the first whistle.

This in fact became the fastest ever third tier playoff final goal, and for those wondering, the fastest ever playoff final goal (across all leagues) scored to date came at the Millennium Stadium, as Leyton Orient’s Chris Tate scored after just 27 seconds in 2001.

Brennan Johnson – who set up that opener for Lincoln – won them a corner which Blackpool’s Daniel Ballard was able to hack clear. The Tangerines were getting back in the game though just needed a spell of steady possession.

On the 9th minute, Blackpool left-back Luke Garbutt got an early booking for a late sliding challenge on Brennan Johnson. The ex-Everton defender was being given a torrid time by the Lincoln winger.

Blackpool’s James Husband tried an ambitious ball over the top for leading scorer Jerry Yates to chase, however it was only slightly overhit as Imps keeper Alex Palmer gathered.

The last team to score first in a League One play-off final and lose were Sunderland, against Charlton in 2019, and how did they go ahead? An early own goal.

By the 18th minute, Blackpool found their feet they actually arguably looked the better side. Having few set-pieces but the delivery wasn’t quite there. Lincoln keeper Alex Palmer had a couple of regulation saves to make, but nothing of note.

Almost a moment of inspiration from Lincoln’s Jorge Grant on the 26th minute. The playmaker was given space just outside the box to take a touch and bend one towards the top corner, though the ball hit the top of the bar and went over.

On the 34th minute, Blackpool deservedly went level.

Jerry Yates held the ball up well, Elliot Embleton managed to keep the ball with the help of a ricochet and then fed Kenny Dougall, who hit a low shot past Alex Palmer with his weaker left foot from just outside the box.

Lincoln keeper Palmer got a hand to it but the power took it past him. Game on!

Jay Freeman (BBC Sport at Wembley Stadium): “That goal has been coming and I have to say Blackpool deserve it having piled everything they can at Lincoln in the past 15 minutes.

“Kenny Dougall races straight to the corner to celebrate right in front of the Lincoln supporters, who are not too happy to see him.

“That is a cracking finish. What a final this is!”

Blackpool were consistently winning the ball high up the pitch, before the referee called for half time with the scoreline level.

A few minutes after the restart, Blackpool’s Daniel Ballard pulled back Morgan Rogers and rightly went into the referee’s book.

After that, some intricate play down the right allowed Blackpool’s Elliot Embleton to put in a cross which was cleared behind for a corner.

A crowded six-yard box but Lincoln stuck to their task and Kevin Stewart eventually sliced a shot over from 20 yards out.

Blackpool and Kenny Dougall got their second of the game on the 54th minute, with an almost identical strike to his first prior to the break, putting his side ahead in some style.

Not too bad for the Australian, who was without a club last summer after leaving Barnsley.

Lincoln’s Jorge Grant put in a tantalising free-kick from out wide but no-one could get on the end of it and the ball drifted behind for a Blackpool goal kick.

The Imps then turned the pressure on their opponents. Tayo Edun went on a lung-busting run down the left and his cut-back eventually found its way to opposite winger Brennan Johnson, who couldn’t pick out a black shirt in the middle.

On the 74th minute, Blackpool went so close to potentially sealing their place in the Championship.

Substitute Gary Madine dummied a pass and Jerry Yates dinked the ball over the onrushing Alex Palmer but his effort went off target and Lincoln clear.

Lincoln could be seen huffing and puffing with roughly 10 minutes remaining, but haven’t forced Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell into a save of note.

Liam Bridcutt was judged to be a bit too aggressive in shrugging off Blackpool’s Gary Madine and conceded a free-kick in a prime crossing position.

Luke Garbutt dinked it in and Madine headed comfortably over the bar.

Blackpool defender James Husband took a clever booking as he brought down Callum Morton to stop a Lincoln counter attack.

From the resulting free-kick a cross came into the box and Morton headed off-target.

With the clock ticking down, Anthony Scully saw his cross into the box spark a goalmouth scramble as Blackpool keeper Chris Maxwell’s punch was unconvincing.

But the Tangerines manage to get the ball out of harm’s way.

Lincoln couldn’t get an equaliser and the final whistle blew, meaning Blackpool joined, Hull City and Peterborough United in going up.

1992, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2017 and 2021.

Blackpool continue their love affair with the playoffs – this was their eighth final, three more than any other side, while they’ve now won six of them which is also a record.

Managers and players come and go at Bloomfield Road but the Tangerines know how to deliver on the big stage.

Fans reacted as the winners of League One Playoff Final seal Championship promotion in tense battle.

@ThiagoASzn: πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ Fantastic achievement. First full season in senior management and he’s won promotion to the Championship. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella.

@Alex16793: Congrats your fans deserve it

@BFCDaz: Gone under the radar all season @SkySports never even clipped us in the play off promotion vids @BlackpoolFC thank you Simon Sadler, Critch, the supporters who still believed at the start,the players and everyone involved at the club, going to be so good for this town ! #UTMP

@kianlufc: Well done fellas, felt your pain of shite owners at leeds in our time. Nice to see youse back

@BluesWillly: Time for revenge next season. Still have sleepless nights over 2011/12

@Tracy11504966: Well done Blackpool! You’ve worked tirelessly and really hard for a promotion and you got what you deserved! Well done! 🧑 lads at the academy are so proud of you! UTMP 🍊

@LiamHar68024622: Hopefully get to a game next season brilliant performance #utmp

@Tomisatwitt: Congratulations and well deserved, after years of hurt under Owen Oysten it’s good to see you guys back in the Championship

@S_Scotty_78: Congratulations, loved Blackpool away, you deserve it after what you endured under the Oystons

@dharvey4: Well done, see you at the Ricoh next season.

@CafcBen2021: Congratulations Blackpool. After all of the shit you have been through with bad ownership you deserve this! Hopefully now we have a good owner we can do the same next season and join you in the championship!

Fans continued to react as the winners of the League One Playoff Final seal Championship promotion in a tense battle…


@Huebuecue: We go again next season. Up the imps

@BullyBeefUK: thanks for everything you’ve given us this season. All hating right now should remember where we were just 5 years ago. Brilliant effort over the last 10 months and every season we are getting better and better. Enjoy your summer everyone. You’ve earned it! UTI

@AFC_Ryan__: We’ll be back next season. What a team. So unlucky today

@bill63725454: As a Stoke fan I have to say you were absolutely shafted by a incompetent referee

@cleantechjon: Phenomenal season, beyond our wildest expectations. What the big 🍎 has done with such a young squad has been incredible. A great platform for next season, with fans back in the ground… I cannot wait! #uti

@danthenshaw: Hate to admit it but the best side won but what a season anyway, lads and manager have been unbelievable,

@adrianclark: Oh well, first time Blackpool have beaten us this season, and on another day we would have won that. Pretty amazing achievement to get this far.

@_MikeLFC_: Hard luck lads. Really wanted to see ye do it. What season though. Fair play. Hope to see ye get over the final hurdle next season.

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