Dead duck heading back to Wembley
Updated Thursday, 10th May 2012
Ian Holloway insists Blackpool have come back from being "a dead duck" last summer after guiding the club to the npower Championship play-off final at Wembley.
Leading 1-0 from the first leg of their semi-final against Birmingham, Wednesday's absorbing 2-2 draw at St Andrew's ensured the Seasiders will now face West Ham in the final on May 19. Holloway's side are now just 90 minutes from making an immediate return to the Barclays Premier League after being relegated on the final day last season.
The Seasiders' progression to the showpiece final is arguably even more impressive this time around after they lost prized assets such as Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell. Holloway left comparisons down to other people, but said: "If you asked me last summer when I lost all those players, I would have said this was a dead duck but it certainly isn't."
The visitors took firm control of the tie with two goals minutes either side of half-time from Stephen Dobbie and Matt Phillips. Nikola Zigic gave Blues a glimmer of hope before skipper Curtis Davies headed them level on the night in front of an electric home crowd, but the hosts could not find that crucial winner to level the overall tie.
Holloway continued: "This club doesn't lie down, we keep going. We try and do it in a decent way.
"But with the opposition, as any boxing fight will tell you, you could get knocked out at any second if you've got a weak chin. It looked like we might have one but we haven't."
Birmingham boss Chris Hughton admitted Blackpool deserved to progress on the overall balance over both legs but could not hide his pride at his team's fightback.
It was pride that was replicated in the stands at the full-time whistle as naturally disappointed home fans clapped their side off the pitch, singing the name of Hughton as speculation no doubt grows connecting him to the forthcoming vacancy at West Brom.
Hughton said: "I'm just so pleased because the fact they scored just before half-time and just afterwards, there's a trail of thought that that's it, the tie's over. I'm just so pleased we were able to make a real fight of it towards the end.
"Over the two legs they were the better team, but we showed what we showed all season and that's a lot of character."