Blackpool end their 41-year wait for top flight football
Ian Holloway’s Blackpool earned promotion to the Premier League after a thrilling 3-2 victory against Cardiff in the Championship play-off final.
The two contenders for promotion put on a spectacle that was more than worthy of entry into the Premier League as fans at a sun-drenched Wembley stadium were treated to five first half goals.
The encounter has already been described as the greatest play-off final in recent history, and rightly so.
Cardiff City showed style and swagger on the counter attack as Blackpool displayed tremendous spirit to twice come from behind and level the score before snatching a third with just seconds left of the first half.
It had taken Cardiff’s Michael Chopra just nine minutes to open the scoring with an instinctive drive which evaded the right hand of Matthew Gilks.
But Ian Holloway’s side equalised within four minutes after Stephen McPhail carelessly handled the ball on the edge of his own area. Charlie Adam delicately placed the ball into the right corner of Marshall’s goal from the resulting free-kick.
Did you know?
Blackpool have never been crowned champions of the English First Division or Premier League
Blackpool managed to retain possession for long spells throughout the first half but their Welsh opponents continued to threaten on the break. Joe Ledley emphatically netted Cardiff’s second after Peter Whittingham’s vision dissected the Seasider’s defence.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher then immediately installed parity capitalising on sloppy goalkeeping from David Marshall.
As half time approached Blackpool scored what would be the defining goal of the match. DJ Campbell waltzed into the Cardiff penalty area before losing his footing at the vital moment.
The ball trickled into the path of Brett Omerod and the former Southampton striker deftly poked the ball between the legs of the onrushing goalkeeper to give Blackpool the initiative.
Cardiff pressed in the second half but were unable to match Blackpool’s work rate, which ultimately rendered Ian Holloway’s team as deserved winners of what is billed as football’s single most lucrative match.