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Saturday 23 September 2017

Blackpool on crest of a wave

Ian Holloway admits it is "unbelievable" to think his Blackpool side are just 90 minutes away from the Premier League. Blackpool beat Nottingham Forest 4-3 at the City Ground last night to reach the Championship play-off final.

The Seasiders led 2-1 from the first leg at Bloomfield Road on Saturday, but twice fell behind to Robert Earnshaw goals.

DJ Campbell and then substitute Stephen Dobbie scored the equalisers before Campbell quickly netted twice to complete his hat-trick and ensure Blackpool would be in the Wembley showpiece on May 22.

Forest substitute Dele Adebola scored in injury time but it was mere consolation as Blackpool sealed a 6-4 aggregate victory.

Blackpool manager Holloway said: "We are still learning and still evolving but we have achieved something mega.

"We are within 90 minutes of playing in the Premier League and that is unbelievable.

"I am very proud. We knew it would be tough and I didn't know if we would have the answers to the questions they asked. I said it would have to be the best we have ever played if we were to do it, and I think it was the best we have ever played."



miss out

Campbell is on loan from Leicester and would miss the final if the Foxes overturn a 1-0 deficit in the other semi-final against Cardiff tonight.

"I don't think he deserves to miss out on the final if that's the case, but that's the way it will be," Holloway added.

Forest boss Billy Davies felt the occasion got to his young players and that the play-offs came at the wrong time for his team.

He said: "In big games you have to be confident enough to get on the ball and show composure and bravery and an arrogance second to none, but we didn't do that tonight.

"Credit to Blackpool, they handled it better than we did. We had too many players freeze on the night.

"Young players that have been outstanding all season and who did great to finish third, it was just too much tonight.

"It would have been the youngest team to ever get to the Premier League -- that would have been an achievement. But I think the play-offs came too late for us. I wish they had come in December when we had round pegs in round holes.

"But don't take anything away from Blackpool. They deserved it and I wish them all the best in the final. I hope they win it."

Blackpool's opponnents will be decided tonight as Cardiff face Leicester with Foxes boss Nigel Pearson hoping to better his greatest managerial achievement. Undoubtedly his finest hour to date was leading Leicester to the League One title, but he faces a tough task if he is to outshine his achievements of 12 months ago. The Foxes travel to Cardiff tonight knowing they must overturn a 1-0 deficit in the Welsh capital after their defeat at the Walkers Stadium on Sunday.

Pearson said: "Obviously winning the League One title last season was a high but this would be right up there if we could do it and finish the job now that we are in the play-offs.

"We were underdogs from the start and are even more so now heading to their place behind, so from that point of view getting to Wembley would be an achievement. Whether it would be the biggest achievement, well it depends how the play-offs finish and how successful we have been," he said.

CARDIFF v LEICESTER

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