Blackpool head to Oxford United this evening, hoping to write another new chapter in the club’s enviable play-off history.
Neil Critchley’s side are the most successful team in the history of the end-of-season lottery, having secured promotion five times through this route.
The Tangerines’ past successes came in 1992, 2001, 2007, 2010, 2017. They’ve also reached the most finals of any club in play-off history, with two unsuccessful showpiece appearances in 1991 and 2012 to boot.
Along with Huddersfield Town, they are also the only side to have won all three divisional play-off finals. It is a proud and reliable record in a system that has been throwing up shocks and surprises for more than 30 years.
Blackpool head to the Kassam Stadium for tonight’s League One semi-final first leg in fine fettle.
They’ve lost just two of their last 22 league outings and even Oxford boss Karl Robinson has been talking up tonight’s visitors.
He declared: “They’re the best team in the play-offs and they’re playing the worst team.”
That sounds a little harsh, given only six points separated the two teams over the course of a 46-game season.
Maybe Robinson was infact referring to Blackpool’s overall record in the competition and also making light of his side’s defeat to Wycombe in last year’s League One play-off final.
Either way, it’s set for a fascinating encounter starting tonight with around 3,500 fans in attendance.
As for Blackpool, this play-off tilt offers another opportunity to continue their almost-constant jostling through the divisions.
The last 11 seasons have seen them promoted or relegated five times – with last year’s campaign suffering an early finish due to Covid.
For most of those divisional changes, the football was largely a sideshow to the off-field dramas under the Oystons.
Thankfully, the club’s fans can now concentrate fully on the pitch.
Not only do Blackpool have play-off history on their side, they also beat Oxford 2-0 in their most recent league meeting.
That followed on from a goalless affair at Bloomfield Road earlier in the campaign.
And if the omens didn’t already look good enough for them, the fact that they have the stingiest defence in League One this season only adds to the good feeling around Critchley’s side.
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