English Premiership

Blackpool hit the EPL jackpot

2010-05-22 18:44
Blackpool earn promotion (AP)

London - Blackpool clinched a lucrative place in the Premier League with a dramatic 3-2 win over Cardiff in the Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday.

Ian Holloway's unfashionable side fought back from behind twice before taking a decisive lead through Brett Ormerod at the end of a sensational first half.

Michael Chopra had given Cardiff a dream star but Charlie Adam equalised for Blackpool soon after and, although Joe Ledley restored Cardiff's advantage, the Seasiders equalised again through Gary Taylor-Fletcher before veteran striker Ormerod bagged the winner.

Ormerod's goal is worth an estimated 90 million pounds (130 million dollars) to Blackpool as a result of the increased revenue streams on offer in the Premier League and the massively improved parachute payments awarded to teams relegated from the top-flight from next season.

The club from a Lancashire seaside town, more famous as a holiday resort than a centre of football excellence, have spent the last 30 years sustained only by distant memories of the Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen-inspired 1953 FA Cup final win.

But, bankrolled by Lavtian millionaire Valeri Belokon, Blackpool have been able to climb from League One to earn a place alongside glamour clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United in just four years.

Cardiff had received a pre-match boost when Peter Whittingham declared himself fit after a groin injury and the midfielder was the provider as Dave Jones' side made a fast start.

In the fourth minute, Whittingham worked space to whip over a low cross from the left and Chopra got ahead of his marker to flick a close-range shot against the crossbar.

Chopra had already scored 20 times this season so it was baffling to see Blackpool's defence grant him such freedom in the early stages.

He made them pay in the ninth minute as Whittingham slid a pass towards Chopra, who timed his run perfectly to stay onside before firing a superb strike into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area.

That setback could have shattered Blackpool's morale but Holloway's team recovered impressively.

When Stephen McPhail handled just outside the area in the 13th minute, Scotland international Adam underlined his reputation as one of the best midfielders outside the top-flight with a fine curling free-kick that flashed into the top corner of David Marshall's goal.

It got worse for Cardiff moments later when striker Jay Bothroyd limped off injured.

Yet it was Jones' men who regained the lead with an incisive break in the 37th minute.

Whittingham provided the chance again as he cleverly picked out Ledley's run and the Wales midfielder kept his nerve to clip a fine finish past Matthew Gilks from a tight angle.

Cardiff's celebrations lasted just four minutes before Taylor-Fletcher put Blackpool back on level terms.

Holloway's side won a corner after Taylor-Fletcher hit a post and Marshall triggered a scramble by failing to claim Vaughan's set-piece.

In the chaos that ensued Ian Evatt hooked an overhead kick towards goal. His effort was chested off the line by Mark Kennedy but Taylor-Fletcher was on hand to score with a brave close-range header from the rebound.

Incredibly there was still time for another goal before the interval.

In the first minute of stoppage time, DJ Campbell caused panic in the Cardiff defence with a jinking run and, when he miscued his shot, the ball ran through for Ormerod to bury a low shot under Marshall.

The scorching heat at Wembley forced both teams to play at a slightly less frenzied tempo after half-time, but Cardiff still looked threatening and Chopra rattled the crossbar with a powerful effort from the edge of the area.

Ledley headed wide and Kelvin Etuhu forced Gilks to push his shot over the bar as Cardiff pressed for an equaliser, but Blackpool held on for an historic victory.

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