BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MAY 09: Stephen Dobie of Blackpool celebrates after scoring the opening goal during npower Championship - Playoff Semi Final 2nd Leg between the Birmingham City and Blackpool at St Andrews (stadium) on May 9, 2012 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Blackpool Vs. Birmingham: Tangerines Heading To Wembley After 3-2 Aggregate Win

Blackpool took a 3-0 aggregate lead via Stephen Dobbie and Matt Phillips, but came very close to throwing it away against a spirited Birmingham City.

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Birmingham Vs. Blackpool, 2012 Championship Playoffs: Final Score 2-2, Tangerines Advance

Blackpool went into St. Andrews holding a slim 1-0 lead and knowing that they needed an early goal to be sure of dispatching Birmingham City and assuring themselves of a place in the Championship Playoff Final. They managed better than that, scoring on either side of halftime then weathering a blue storm to book a date with Sam Allardyce's West Ham United on May 19th.

The opening spell was fairly even - the hosts hit the crossbar and Blackpool looked very dangerous whenever they got forward. With Birmingham so good at home, the tie was very much in the balance for as long as it remained 0-0, but the the deadlock was broken during first half stoppage time. Alex Baptiste attempted an overhead volley from a corner kick, and although it was completely mishit Blackpool were fortunate enough to see the ball fall to Stephen Dobbie, who was able to squeeze a shot under Colin Doyle for a 1-0 lead.

Things got even worse for Birmingham shortly after the restart when their defensive line totally lost the plot and allowed Matthew Phillips clean through on goal. He finished calmly off the post to make it 2-0 on the night, meaning that Birmingham would need three goals to take the match to extra time.

The hosts pulled one back via a neat finish from the right foot of Nikola Zigic in the 64th minute, and shortly thereafter Curtis Davies rose high to meet a corner, heading expertly past Matthew Gilks to give the hosts further hope. But despite the energy around St. Andrews and the flood of blue shirts streaming forward, Birmingham could not score again, and found themselves 3-2 aggregate losers after a thrilling match, with chances going both ways - several times - before the end.

So, it'll be one of West Ham and Blackpool that join Reading and Southampton in the Premier League for the 2012/13 season. Who've you got?


Birmingham Vs. Blackpool, 2012 Championship Playoffs: Tangerines Holding Slim Lead

Blackpool and Birmingham would both be very worthy opponents for West Ham United at Wembley in the Championship playoff final, but only one will have that opportunity after Wednesday night's semifinal second leg. Blackpool hold a 1-0 lead after winning the first leg, but they missed a number of golden chances and should have been able to open up a bigger lead.

Both teams' managers have proven themselves as Premier League quality, and both of these teams were fighting to avoid relegation to the Championship on the final day of the season last year. They now reside in a different world where Marlon King and Kevin Phillips are their team's respective leading scorers. For that reason alone, Wednesday's second leg is almost entirely unpredictable.

Game Date/Time: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local

Venue: St. Andrew's Stadium, Birmingham, England

TV: FOX Soccer Plus (U.S.), Sportsnet World (Canada), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.)


Blackpool Vs. Birmingham, 2012 Championship Playoffs: Final Score, Tangerines Win 1-0

Blackpool will be happy to head to St. Andrews with a lead and without allowing an away goal to their opponents, but Birmingham City will be thrilled that they're down just one goal. Blackpool laid siege on the goal of Colin Doyle and could have very easily scored three or four goals, but they only managed one in their 1-0 victory, and they needed a bit of help to do it.

The lone goal was credited to defender Curtis Davies, a heartbreaking own goal in first half stoppage time. Thomas Ince created the goal with a shot that Davies appeared to be in good position to block, but instead he deflected the ball past his own keeper.

In the second half, Blackpool were brilliant, but they somehow failed to find the net again. Doyle finished the game with 10 saves, and that doesn't even count the misses and woodwork hits for the Tangerines. Matthew Phillips and Stephen Dobbie both had excellent chances in the opening 20 minutes of the half, but both put their golden chances over the crossbar.

Ian Holloway brought on legendary goal-poacher Kevin Phillips for Dobbie in the 75th minute in an attempt to extend the lead, but even Phillips, with 16 goals on the season and 271 professional goals in his career, didn't have the finishing touch on Friday evening.

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