Birmingham City 2-2 Blackpool (Agg 2-3): Holloway's men hold off comeback to edge into Championship play-off final against West Ham

Ian Holloway's men squandered a two-goal advantage at St Andrew's to set up a tense finish but were able to hold out to secure a trip to Wembley on May 19
Blackpool are one win away from a return to the Premier League after edging their way into the Championship play-off final with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Birmingham City.

Stephen Dobbie struck for Ian Holloway's side on the stroke of half-time before Matt Phillips looked to have put the tie beyond Birmingham with a goal just after the restart. But Chris Hughton's charges rallied back through Nikola Zigic and Curtis Davies to set up a tense finish, however, Blackpool held their nerve to secure a 2-2 draw on the night, enough to ensure they will face West Ham at Wembley on May 19.

Blackpool may have come away from the first leg at Bloomfield Road disappointed that their advantage failed to extend beyond Davies' own goal, and Holloway's men could have doubled their lead within five minutes as Thomas Ince saw a strong case for a penalty turned down by referee Chris Foy after being tugged in the box by David Murphy.

The frantic pace from the outset saw chances created for both teams. Marlon King came closest for Birmingham as his volley into the ground from Murphy's cross stuck the crossbar, while Ince's indecisiveness in front of goal saw a strong shooting opportunity spurned for the visitors.

Blackpool begun to exert their authority on the fixture after 20 minutes and, following a string of passes, Ince was found on the left flank and the midfielder crossed to Gary Taylor-Fletcher who was unmarked at the back post but failed to hit the target with a tame header.

But in a similar fashion to the first leg, Blackpool took the lead moments before the half-time whistle. Birmingham failed to properly clear Ince's corner and while Alex Baptiste's ambitious overhead kick was blocked, the ball fell into the path of Dobbie, who swept the ball low between the post and goalkeeper Colin Doyle.

Blackpool picked up where they left off at the restart and found themselves in a comfortable position inside three minutes as Matt Phillipspounced on Stephen Crainey's lofted through pass to strike from a narrow angle past Doyle.
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But just as Blackpool appeared in command, Holloway's men were architects of their own downfall as they allowed Birmingham a foothold back into the tie. The visitors failed to clear a loose punt down their right flank and as play shifted towards the middle, Chris Burke threaded a pass through to Zigic, who had narrowly beaten the offside trap, and the Serb cooly slotted past Matt Gilks.

King could have doubled Birmingham's advantage six minutes later after finding space in the box, but the striker's close-range shot was superbly saved low down by Gilks.

But Birmingham were not to be denied a second and Blackpool's defence was breached for a second time as Davies powered his header from Jordon Mutch's corner past Gilks.

The hosts continued to probe Blackpool but Holloway's men had become wise to their defensive negligence by that time and were able to hold out against any further onslaught from Birmingham to set up a date with West Ham.

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