Neil Critchley hails ‘outstanding’ Blackpool players as they claim play-off spot

Neil Critchley's Blackpool have clinched a play-off spot
Neil Critchley's Blackpool have clinched a play-off spot (PA Wire)
22:08pm, Tue 04 May 2021
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Boss Neil Critchley paid tribute to his “outstanding” Blackpool players after a 2-0 win over Doncaster secured their place in the League One play-offs.

Everton loanee Ellis Simms bagged a goal in each half as the Tangerines made it three wins from three to move to third, with a home semi-final second leg in their sights.

But just extending their season by at least two more games is an impressive achievement for a side who had just seven points after their first nine games.

“It’s been an incredible effort from the players,” said head coach Critchley.

“Considering the start we had to the season, since then all the players have been outstanding.

“We’ve had injuries to cope with, and of course the Covid issues, but the players have adapted throughout.

“Whatever has been thrown at them, they’ve coped with, and huge credit to them for that.

“We’re not done yet, but I’m really proud of the group, it’s been a real squad effort.

“The consistency the players have shown since the ninth game of the season has been outstanding.

“I always knew our attacking play would get better, though, and as long as we keep defending well, then who knows where we’ll end up now?

“Right now, we’re in good form, we’re scoring plenty of goals, and we’re keeping clean sheets.

“Going into the play-offs we’re looking good so of course the lads will be confident.”

Blackpool broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute when Jerry Yates flicked a header perfectly into the path of strike partner Simms, and he comfortably beat Doncaster goalkeeper Louis Jones from 15 yards.

Mid-table Rovers finally tested Chris Maxwell in the 73rd minute when the Blackpool goalkeeper superbly kept out substitute Josh Sims’ header.

But Simms struck again for Blackpool with 10 minutes left. After meeting Luke Garbutt’s through-ball, he bundled home from close range after Jones had blocked his initial strike.

“We knew Blackpool would cause us problems as they are a really well-organised team and they’ve been in good form, obviously heading into the play-offs now,” said Doncaster interim manager Andy Butler.

“They’re a good, established team, and so we knew we’d be up against it.

“It’s another loss, but I see this as another learning curve for the players.

“We could have created a few more chances, but at least we got into a few decent situations in and around their box.

“Individual mistakes cost us again, though, and I’ll hold my hands up for the first one.

“Those kinds of errors do give us something to reflect on.

“We are a club in transition, and whoever is in charge in pre-season has lots to think about.

“It’s not been a normal season by any means, but again it has given us so much to learn from.”

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