Fri, May 11, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Seasiders thwart late rally to make Championship final


Blackpool thwarted a late rally by Birmingham City in their Championship playoff on Wednesday, drawing 2-2 to clinch a 3-2 aggregate victory and set up a high-stakes final with West Ham United at Wembley Stadium next week.

Goals either side of halftime by Steven Dobbie and Matt Phillips put the visitors 2-0 up in the semi-final second leg, but Birmingham refused to be beaten on the night, and fought back through Nikola Zigic and Curtis Davies.

Defender Davies ensured a nerve-jangling finish when his powerful close-range header in the 73rd minute made up for his own-goal in the first leg.

“I’m so proud of my players,” Blackpool manager Ian Holloway told Sky Sports. “That was a fantastic fightback by Birmingham and it was all so exciting that I had to ask someone what the score was. It’s all over now though. We did it and we are going to Wembley.”

West Ham, relegated last season, take on Blackpool at Wembley on May 19 for a place in the Premier League in a tussle known as the “richest club match in soccer” because the financial rewards for promotion are enormous.

“This has been a real tough day for us,” Birmingham manager Chris Hughton said. “I’ve just walked away from a devastated dressing room — we all feel that way because it’s been a long, hard season. We’ve had lots of ups and downs, lots of emotion, and it makes it even tougher when you get so close to reaching the final and miss out.”

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