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Neil Critchley saluted Blackpool as their play-off bid stays alive

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Apr 2024

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Neil Critchley hailed a brave Blackpool performance as the Seasiders beat promotion rivals Barnsley 3-2 to boost their League One play-off chances.

Goals from Sonny Carey, James Husband and Hayden Coulson put the hosts 3-0 up but John McAtee pulled one back for Barnsley, before Adam Phillips’ late strike set up a nervy finish.

Blackpool need to win their final game of the season away to Reading, and hope that both Lincoln and Oxford drop points in order to secure a place in the top six.

Blackpool are bang in form and have now won their last four games, with Critchley proud of their battling display.

“We don’t do things easy, but I thought we were outstanding up until they scored their first goal. Even when they scored their first goal, we had chances to make it 4-1,” he said.

“We looked a really good team. Our mentality was excellent, we played with confidence and took the game to the opposition. I’m not sure how it ended 3-2, but we won and we take it down to a very exciting and interesting last day.

“It was on par with our best of the season the first hour. We played with a calmness in possession and with an intensity without the ball. We were dangerous.

“I didn’t enjoy the end to the game, but I’m grateful we got the three points.

“We had to win this game, so we took the handbrake off and went for it. The only blot on the copybook today was the goals we conceded.”

Carey gave Blackpool the lead on 12 minutes with a curling shot from 25 yards out that found the corner, while Husband headed in Karamoko Dembele’s pinpoint free-kick before Coulson smashed one into the roof of the net just after the restart.

McAtee pulled one back for Barnsley to give them a glimmer of hope midway through the second half, steering into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Phillips then set up a nervy finish in added time when he fired into the corner, but Critchley’s side held on.

Barnsley know a win on the final day will secure them a play-off place but manager Neil Collins knows they can not relax.

“I think we just got overwhelmed at the start of the game and we created our own problems right from the start – poor clearances, poor in tackles, poor defending,” he said.

“We came out second half, and again we made poor decisions and went 3-0 down. It would have been very easy for the players to feel sorry for themselves, and were it not for some of the officiating we should be standing here with a point.

“Performance wise, it wasn’t up to standard. But the spirit the players showed was really good, and again we were on the wrong side of a couple of decisions.”

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