League Two
Blackpool2Exeter1

Blackpool 2-1 Exeter City

Blackpool celebrate
Blackpool finished seventh in the League Two table, two places behind Exteter

Mark Cullen and Brad Potts starred to help Blackpool return to League One at the first time of asking with victory over Exeter in the play-off final.

With the game's first attack, Potts found the the bottom corner after Cullen's classy touch and flick.

Ollie Watkins was denied by Sam Slocombe before David Wheeler lobbed the keeper to deservedly put Exeter level.

Blackpool had numerous chances before Cullen prodded in Potts' low cross.

Paul Tisdale's Exeter side dominated possession throughout and almost forced extra time when Watkins headed over in stoppage time.

The Tangerines, who only had around 6,000 supporters at Wembley because of an ongoing boycott by fans in protest against the club's owners, lost skipper Tom Aldred to injury before the break but were not deterred.

The margin of victory could have been bigger for Gary Bowyer's men, with substitute Bright Osayi-Samuel shooting wide and Kyle Vassell seeing an effort saved as Exeter left themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks late on.

Blackpool on their way back?

Blackpool's Will Aimson shakes hands with Owner Owen Oyston after the final whistle
Blackpool's Will Aimson shakes hands with owner Owen Oyston after the final whistle

As recently as 2011 Blackpool were in the Premier League, but their drop to the second tier after just one season in the top flight was compounded by successive relegations in the past two seasons.

There have been well documented off-field problems too, with the Blackpool Supporters' Trust repeatedly calling for much-maligned owners Owen and Karl Oyston to step aside.

One thing the Lancashire club have not lost is their knack of successful play-off campaigns, with this their fifth final victory - more than any other club.

It also adds to the trend of teams finishing seventh, the final play-off spot in League Two, going up - as it has now happened in five of the past eight fourth-tier campaigns.

No double for Exeter

With Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham on Saturday in the Premiership rugby union final, this was a bumper weekend of sport for the south-west city with tens of thousands of fans flocking to the capital.

While Chiefs squeaked past Wasps in extra time to be crowned English champions, City fell agonisingly short in their first EFL play-off final, showing the small margins in these one-off matches.

However, Exeter will undoubtedly look back at their season with pride, having gone from the bottom of League Two in mid-November after 17 games to an unexpected Wembley final.

Manager Tisdale is only outstayed in England's top four leagues by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, so there is continuity at the fan-owned club and he is used to regrouping for season after season.

Reaction

Gary Bowyer told BBC Sport:
Blackpool manager Gary Bowyer with the League Two play-off trophy

Blackpool boss Gary Bowyer told BBC Sport: "It was a massive team effort but Cullen made a massive sacrifice for the team after we scored, as we asked him to play in midfield.

"Exeter, a great footballing team, put us on the back foot and we had to change our shape and then we lost our captain and had to adjust again.

"It was like a scene from A&E at one point because of the changes that we had to keep making."

On fans boycotting the final: "It is a shame because it would have been great to have more here, but the ones that were here made a hell of a noise like they have all season.

"On the first day that I walked into the club I said we couldn't control it - I was used to that situation at Blackburn, where fans weren't happy with their owners, so I was used that experience."

Exeter City boss Paul Tisdale told BBC Sport: "I'm disappointed, clearly. I'm disappointed that we probably didn't do our best in the last half an hour.

"It's a tough environment to play in - the pressure - and the performance doesn't always get the result.

"I'm really proud of the players for the season they've had - we certainly will regret today in terms of the result, but we should be very pleased in terms of what we've done this year.

"We gave ourselves an opportunity, which unfortunately we didn't take, but we'll have to look again for next year."

Minute's silence at Wembley
There was a minute's silence observed at Wembley in memory of the victims of the Manchester attack on Monday
Blackpool fan sign
Brad Potts has plenty of Blackpool fans, and that was even before he helped inspire them to play-off glory
Exeter City fan
Exeter City were full of voice on a rare trip to Wembley
Brad Potts
Brad Potts celebrates his third-minute goal for Blackpool
David Wheeler
David Wheeler got Exeter's equaliser, but it was not enough as Blackpool went on to win it
Mark Cullen
Mark Cullen scored a hat-trick in Blackpool's play-off semi-final first leg win over Luton

Line-ups

Blackpool

  • 1SlocombeBooked at 90mins
  • 6Aimson
  • 15AldredSubstituted forOsayi-Samuelat 31'minutesBooked at 66mins
  • 5Robertson
  • 28PayneSubstituted forBlackat 62'minutes
  • 2Mellor
  • 35Danns
  • 8Potts
  • 23DanielBooked at 90mins
  • 9CullenBooked at 59minsSubstituted forFloresat 75'minutesBooked at 90mins
  • 7Vassell

Substitutes

  • 12Flores
  • 16Nolan
  • 21Osayi-Samuel
  • 27Lyness
  • 30Delfouneso
  • 31Gnanduillet
  • 37Black

Exeter

  • 30Pym
  • 28Stacey
  • 39BrownSubstituted forSweeneyat 58'minutes
  • 15Moore-Taylor
  • 3WoodmanSubstituted forHolmesat 71'minutes
  • 25Taylor
  • 4James
  • 7Harley
  • 11Wheeler
  • 14Watkins
  • 12GrantSubstituted forReidat 57'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Olejnik
  • 6Tillson
  • 10Holmes
  • 19McAlinden
  • 29Croll
  • 31Sweeney
  • 33Reid
Referee:
Darren England
Attendance:
23,380

Match Stats

Home TeamBlackpoolAway TeamExeter
Possession
Home36%
Away64%
Shots
Home16
Away13
Shots on Target
Home5
Away2
Corners
Home8
Away3
Fouls
Home7
Away11

Live Text

Match ends, Blackpool 2, Exeter City 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Blackpool 2, Exeter City 1.

Booking

Colin Daniel (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card.

Hand ball by Lee Holmes (Exeter City).

Attempt missed. Ollie Watkins (Exeter City) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by David Wheeler with a headed pass.

Booking

Jordan Flores (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Jack Stacey (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Jordan Flores (Blackpool).

Foul by Jake Taylor (Exeter City).

Bright Samuel (Blackpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Booking

Sam Slocombe (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card.

Attempt saved. Kyle Vassell (Blackpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Bright Samuel.

Attempt missed. Bright Samuel (Blackpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Brad Potts.

Attempt missed. Lee Holmes (Exeter City) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Colin Daniel.

Offside, Blackpool. Sam Slocombe tries a through ball, but Kyle Vassell is caught offside.

Foul by Jordan Moore-Taylor (Exeter City).

Kelvin Mellor (Blackpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Exeter City. Conceded by Will Aimson.

Jordan Moore-Taylor (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Will Aimson (Blackpool).

Attempt missed. David Wheeler (Exeter City) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Lloyd James with a cross.

Attempt missed. Bright Samuel (Blackpool) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Neil Danns.

Attempt missed. Reuben Reid (Exeter City) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by David Wheeler with a headed pass.

Jordan Moore-Taylor (Exeter City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Bright Samuel (Blackpool).

Substitution

Substitution, Blackpool. Jordan Flores replaces Mark Cullen.

Corner, Blackpool. Conceded by Pierce Sweeney.

Attempt missed. Neil Danns (Blackpool) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Bright Samuel.

Substitution

Substitution, Exeter City. Lee Holmes replaces Craig Woodman.

Attempt blocked. Lloyd James (Exeter City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Reuben Reid.

Attempt missed. Kyle Vassell (Blackpool) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Neil Danns following a corner.

Corner, Blackpool. Conceded by Lloyd James.

Booking

Bright Samuel (Blackpool) is shown the yellow card.

Goal!

Goal! Blackpool 2, Exeter City 1. Mark Cullen (Blackpool) left footed shot from very close range to the bottom left corner.

Attempt saved. Brad Potts (Blackpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kyle Vassell with a headed pass.

Foul by Reuben Reid (Exeter City).

Will Aimson (Blackpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Kyle Vassell (Blackpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Brad Potts with a cross.

Offside, Blackpool. Ian Black tries a through ball, but Kyle Vassell is caught offside.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Portsmouth462691179403987
2Plymouth462691171462587
3Doncaster4625101185553085
4Luton462017970432777
5Exeter462181775561971
6Carlisle461817116968171
7Blackpool4618161269462370
8Colchester4619121567571069
9Wycombe461912155853569
10Stevenage46207196763467
11Cambridge46199185850866
12Mansfield461715145450466
13Accrington461714155956365
14Grimsby461711185963-462
15Barnet461415175764-757
16Notts County46168225476-2256
17Crewe461413195867-955
18Morecambe461410225373-2052
19Crawley461312215371-1851
20Yeovil461117184964-1550
21Cheltenham461214204969-2050
22Newport461212225173-2248
23Hartlepool461113225475-2146
24Leyton Orient46106304787-4036
View full League Two table

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