Blackpool booked their spot in the Sky Bet League One play-off final as they secured a 6-3 aggregate win over Oxford.
Oxford took the lead early on the night at Bloomfield Road to give themselves hope of overturning the 3-0 deficit from the first leg of their semi-final, but quick goals from Elliott Embleton and Kenny Dougall turned the tie back in Blackpool’s favour.
Rob Atkinson gave Oxford a glimmer again shortly after the break, but Jerry Yates then quickly struck again for Blackpool to extinguish any hope of a dramatic comeback. Olamide Shodipo then struck in the closing stages to earn Oxford a 3-3 draw on the night.
Blackpool now head to Wembley on Sunday, May 30, where they will face either Sunderland or Lincoln for a spot in the Championship. Those two meet on Saturday afternoon, live on Sky Sports Football from 3pm.
Blackpool progress after enthralling draw
No side had ever overturned a three-goal first-leg deficit in play-offs history, but Oxford’s hopes of doing the unthinkable were boosted after just seven minutes as Matty Taylor found space in the box after a free-kick had looped into his path, before firing into the bottom corner.
Any nerves the fans – returning to Bloomfield Road – were feeling, however, were dispelled just four minutes later thanks to a sensational strike from Embleton. The midfielder collected the ball just inside Oxford’s half, and drove towards the edge of the box before curling an absolute peach of a strike into the bottom corner. It was an unstoppable effort.
And the second leg was turned on its head just two minutes later as Daniel Ballard brilliantly kept a corner alive with a header back across goal, allowing Dougall to hook the ball across the line from six yards.
Oxford had scored seven minutes into the first half to give themselves hope, and they repeated the trick minutes into the second as Atkinson headed in from a Henry free-kick to level the game again at 2-2 and cut Blackpool’s aggregate lead to three goals.
But once again they quickly came undone through some poor defending. Just two minutes later Blackpool grabbed another, as Demetri Mitchell crossed from the right for Yates, who took a touch in the box before hitting a low strike past Jack Stevens.
Oxford kept going and grabbed another through Shodipo from close range on 74 minutes, but there would be no further rally as Blackpool guaranteed their progress.
Man of the Match – Jerry Yates
Lee Hendrie on Sky Sports Football:
“He has worked the line and worked so hard. He got the goal he deserved too. it was an excellent performance.”
Blackpool progress to the Sky Bet League One play-off final, which takes place at Wembley on Sunday, May 30 at 3pm, while Oxford will remain in the division for the 2021/22 season, which begins on Saturday, August 7.