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League One

Report: Dougall double inspires Blackpool triumph at Wembley

30 May 2021

Blackpool came from behind to earn promotion back to the Sky Bet Championship, beating Lincoln City 2-1 at Wembley Stadium, courtesy of a goal in either half from midfielder Kenny Dougall.

The Tangerines - who are the most successful club in Play-Off history - earned promotion via the Play-Offs for a sixth time, despite falling behind to an Ollie Turton own goal within the opening minute of the match. Dougall levelled the scores just after the half-hour mark, before putting the Seasiders in front nine minutes after the break, and Neil Critchley's side saw out the victory to spark scenes of celebration inside the National Stadium.

Ahead of the game, the notable exclusion from the Blackpool teamsheet was injured attacker Ellis Simms, who had played a key role in getting the club to Wembley, while CJ Hamilton returned to the bench. Among the Lincoln starters were Joe Walsh and Conor McGrandles, as well as 18-year-old Manchester City loanee Morgan Rogers.

In front of 10,000 noisy supporters and under the famous arch at a sun-soaked Wembley, it was a simply incredible start, with the East End celebrating just 46 seconds after kick-off. Brennan Johnson broke down the right-hand side and produced a dangerous low cross which was turned into his own net by Turton to leave the Tangerines shell-shocked. It was the second-fastest goal in Play-Off Final history, following Chris Tate's effort for Leyton Orient against the Seasiders in 2001, which came after just 27 seconds.

Johnson looked in the mood, with his pace bringing an early booking for Blackpool's Luke Garbutt and earning the Imps a free-kick deep in the opposition half soon after, from which Walsh rose highest but headed over the crossbar. 

With Blackpool looking to hit back, Critchley's men had their first real sight of goal on 20 minutes as Garbutt's free-kick was comfortably saved by Alex Palmer in the Lincoln goal, but the Imps would soon go close again as Jorge Grant's excellent curling effort struck the frame of Chris Maxwell's goal.

The game was beginning to open up, and the Tangerines' best chance of the half so far was to follow just before the half-hour mark, as Jerry Yates' cut-back found Demetri Mitchell, who forced a good save from Palmer from 15 yards. Their efforts to find an equaliser would pay off just minutes later, as Dougall hauled them level, shifting the ball onto his left foot and firing a low strike beyond Palmer and into the corner from the edge of the area.

With the momentum and noise of their fans behind them, Blackpool came forward again as the clock ticked down towards half time, with Elliot Embleton and then Mitchell forcing the goalkeeper into action. It left the scores level and the game finely poised, going into the break.

Half-time: Blackpool 1-1 Lincoln City

After the break and with both teams attacking towards their respective fans, Lincoln set about regaining control of proceedings through Rogers, who did well to break into the Blackpool half before drawing a foul - and a booking - out of Danny Ballard on the left-hand side. The Tangerines were keen to pick up where they had left off, though, and registered another attempt on goal through Kevin Stewart. 

It would be Australian international Dougall, however, looking for a repeat performance of his own, who would inspire Critchley's side again. With 54 minutes on the clock, he found space on the edge of the Lincoln box once more and produced a near-identical strike to his first, this time finding the corner with his right foot to give his side the lead for the first time. 

Now it was Lincoln's turn to chase a leveller, and the Imps had appeals for a penalty turned down after Johnson went down in the Blackpool area, before throwing the dice by introducing Callum Morton from the bench. Blackpool continued to play eye-catching football in the Lincoln half when coming forward themselves, and almost grabbed a third through Yates following a neat move, but his dinked finish was hacked away as it bounced towards goal. 

Both sides made further changes with time running out, as Blackpool brought on Gary Madine, CJ Hamilton and Grant Ward, while Lincoln introduced Anthony Scully for the closing stages. Chances had become more precious in the heat at Wembley, and Lincoln fashioned a decent one six minutes from time through Johnson, but Morton could only head over the bar.

Time, as well as the scoreline, was against the Imps, and Rogers' misplaced effort from the edge of the area - alongside a golden late opening for Regan Poole - would prove to be their last sights of goal. Once again, Blackpool had done enough in the Play-Offs, and their latest triumph will no doubt live long in the memory.

Full-time: Blackpool 2-1 Lincoln City


Blackpool: Maxwell, Turton, Ballard, Husband, Garbutt, Stewart, Dougall, Mitchell (Madine 69'), Embleton (Hamilton 79'), Anderson (Ward 79'), Yates (Thorniley 90').

Unused subs: Moore, Ekpiteta, Gabriel, Thorniley.

Scorers: Dougall (33', 54')


Lincoln City: Palmer, Poole, Walsh (Montsma 88'), Eyoma, Edun, Bridcutt, Grant (Scully 79'), McGrandles, Johnson, Rogers, Hopper (Morton 63'). 

Unused subs: Long, Bramall, Anderson, Sanders.

Scorers: Turton 1' (OG)


Attendance: 9,751

Man of the Match: Dougall

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