Sun, May 06, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Ince helps Blackpool edge Birmingham in playoff

AFP, LONDON

A deflected first-half strike from Thomas Ince sealed a 1-0 win for Blackpool over Birmingham in the first leg of their Championship playoff semi-final on Friday.

Blackpool, who were relegated from England’s top flight after the 2010-2011 season, will now take their slender advantage to St Andrews on Wednesday for the second leg.

On Thursday, West Ham beat playoff opponents Cardiff 2-0 away in the Welsh capital to take a major stride toward securing a place in the playoff final at Wembley on May 19.

The clubs will meet for the second leg at West Ham’s Upton Park tomorrow.

Championship winners Reading and runners-up Southampton claimed the two automatic promotion places on offer and are assured of playing in the lucrative English top flight next season.

The four clubs immediately below the Saints must battle it for the one remaining spot in the top flight via the playoffs, which culminate with the Wembley final.

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