Blackpool put up a pretty good fight against West Ham United in the Championship playoff final but ultimately fell at the final hurdle in their bid to be promoted back to the Premier League. It wasn't a game of great quality - there was plenty of poor finishing and dire defending on display, but after a largely quiet first half the second as about as entertaining as you're likely to get.
West Ham were heavy favourites, having demolished the Tangerines in both league matches, but it was actually Ian Holloway's men who looked the brighter in the early stages, with Matt Phillips missing two clear chances to put Blackpool ahead, blowing a one on one with Rob Green before taking advantage of a terrible touch from Guy Demel only to curl his shot just past the upright with the goal gaping.
His side would be made to pay for his profligacy when Tom Ince lost the ball in the 35th minute. A lucky bounce gave Matty Taylor possession on the left, and he picked out Carlton Cole with a lovely diagonal. Cole's first touch wasn't great, but Ian Evatt had failed to track him properly, giving the striker enough space to power a shot past Matt Gilks. West Ham led 1-0.
That lead would be gone just minutes after the break, however, as Ince made amends for his part in the Hammers' goal. Matt Phillips picked out the winger with a long pass from the left flank (it was avery similar to Taylor's pass to Cole), and Ince met it first time with a sweet, well-placed volley that nestled in the bottom corner. West Ham were rocking on their heels and Blackpool were doing their best to take advantage of it, with a deft chip by Alex Baptiste cleared off the line and Stephen Dobbie completely miscuing a shot with the goal at his mercy a little later.
But Sam Allardyce's side would muscle their way back into the match and Kevin Nolan nearly scored what would have been a very worthy winner in the 80th minute with a brilliantly struck rasping shot that Gilks got a finger to, tipping it onto the crossbar. The rebound was poked wide.
Fortunately for West Ham, that wasn't going to be their last chance of the match, and Ricardo Vaz Te was on hand to sweep home following a scramble in the box. It was a wonderful moment for the forward, but he came perilously close to missing the open goal entirely - his shot from close range and with Gilks prone was just under the bar. Thankfully for Vaz te and his team, his mis-hit wasn't enough to prevent them from taking a very late lead.
Blackpool would try to pour forwards, but the Hammers were up to the challenge and held off their late charge with relative ease. So, after a year in the wilderness, West Ham are back in the Premier League. It'll take at least a little while longer for the Tangerines to return.