Blackpool 2-1 Lincoln City: Neil Critchley’s side win promotion back to the Championship after six years out thanks to brace from Kenny Dougall
- Blackpool have won promotion back into the Championship after six years out
- Blackpool’s Ollie Turton scored an own goal in the opening minute of the game
- However, Kenny Dougall equalised for Neil Critchley’s side just before half-time
- Dougall went on to score a second goal to secure Blackpool victory on Sunday
On a weekend when Manchester City’s failure to include a defensive midfielder cost them victory in one final, Blackpool holder Kenny Dougall showed what a difference they can make, albeit with a rare and unlikely double to take his side back to the Championship.
For the first time in his career the 28-year-old netted twice in one match, returning Blackpool to the second tier after six years away.
Dougall, the Australia international, had scored two goals in three seasons in England prior to this, although that did include one in the play-off semi-final 10 days ago. He has found his shooting boots at just the right time.
Neil Critchley’s side won promotion back to the Championship on Sunday afternoon
They will return to the Championship after six years out thanks to their 2-1 victory over Lincoln
While Lincoln City missed out on the opportunity to return to the English second tier
He was wearing one on either foot here, a left and right combo to reverse the scoreline after Lincoln had taken a first-minute lead.
What fine strikes they were, both dispatched with authority from outside the area to leave you wondering which, if any, is his weaker side.
The victory climaxes an incredible 2021 for Neil Critchley’s team, who were 15th in League One at the end of January.
But they deserved this, despite a shocking opening in which their supporters groaned and grimaced after every lost tackle and misplaced pass.
Critchley’s (above) side went 1-0 down in the opening minute of the game due to an own goal
However, Kenny Dougall equalised for Neil Critchley’s side just before the half-time mark
Teams who fall foul to London traffic and show up late at Wembley invariably put on a performance to match their tardiness. Middlesbrough in 2015, for example – some would argue they never did turn up for their Championship play-off defeat to Norwich.
Lincoln were not about to conform to that narrative. They arrived 45 minutes before kick-off having spent an extra hour on the road staring at brake lights. But once the game started the handbrake was off.
Indeed, within 47 seconds they had taken the lead. Brennan Johnson, the 20-year-old Wales winger, attacked down the right and delivered a cross that had too much fizz for striker Tom Hopper to convert.
Dougall’s goal was a left footed shot from outside the box to the bottom left corner
Fans were present at the stadium to watch the exciting play-off final on Sunday afternoon
Blackpool: Maxwell, Turton, Ballard, Husband, Garbutt, Stewart, Dougall, Mitchell, Embleton, Anderson, Yates
Subs: Lawrence-Gabriel, Thorniley, Madine, Ward, Ekpiteta, Hamilton, Moore
Lincoln City: Palmer, Poole, Eyoma, Walsh, Edun, Bridcutt, McGrandles, Grant, Johnson, Hopper, Rogers
Subs: Montsma, Sanders, Scully, Bramall, Morton, Anderson, Long.
Referee: Tony Harrington (Cleveland)
But the pace also proved too much for defender Ollie Turton, too. His awkward attempt at a clearance came at the expense of a clumsy – and somewhat comical – own goal. Not quite how he’d imagined starting his afternoon.
Turton was not alone in those among the Seasiders who looked like they were on the beach, a baffling lack of energy and application given the stakes.
For the first 25 minutes it was all Lincoln and they should have been two in front when Jorge Grant was allowed time to size a shot from 18 yards and clipped the crossbar.
But Blackpool made a belated appearance after the half hour, and they were level on 34 minutes.
There was more than a hint of handball when Elliot Embleton’s arm blocked a clearance and the ball landed for him to feed Dougall, who switched to his left and drilled into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
The absence of VAR allowed those in tangerine to celebrate with joyous abandon, but in a Premier League world you suspect this goal would have been disallowed.
There was no doubt about the winner on 54 minutes. Dougall did not need a touch this time when the ball was rolled to him by Jerry Yates and, without hesitation, he smashed right footed beyond Alex Palmer from 20 yards.
A note to Pep Guardiola: never under-estimate the value of a defensive midfielder.
However, numbers were still limited due to the ongoing restrictions amid the pandemic