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Bloomfield Road (ATT 13,832) 4th May 2012 - Kick off 19:45 Ref: M Halsey

Blackpool Blackpool vs Birmingham City Birm'ham

Blackpool 1

C Davies (og 45)

ft

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Own goal hands Pool advantage

Unfortunate Davies deflects Ince's shot into his own net

Last Updated: 04/05/12 10:57pm

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A Curtis Davies own goal handed Blackpool a narrow advantage in their Championship play-off semi-final with Birmingham.

The only goal at Bloomfield Road on Friday came on the stroke of half time after Thomas Ince's shot was deflected in by the unfortunate Blues captain.

Nathan Redmond and Marlon King might have put Birmingham ahead before that, but Chris Hughton's side were forced onto the back foot in the second half, with former Liverpool youngster Ince to the fore.

Stephen Dobbie should have doubled the advantage before King almost made the Seasiders pay when he clipped the outside of the post in stoppage time.

The result means there is all to play for next Wednesday in the second leg at St Andrew's.

Birmingham go into that clash - their 62nd game of a season punctuated by runs in the Europa League and FA Cup - needing to bounce back from a first defeat in 10 outings, while Blackpool are now unbeaten in eight.

Ian Holloway reverted to the same Blackpool XI that beat Burnley 4-0 to secure a top six berth a fortnight ago, with former Blues midfielder Barry Ferguson restored as captain in one of five changes.

Striker King came into the match on the back of scoring in both league games against Blackpool and the 18-goal forward returned as Hughton made four alterations to the side that beat champions Reading last weekend.

Frentic opening

Gary Taylor-Fletcher prodded home from an offside position for the hosts, while Davies headed off target at the other end in a frenetic opening.

There was an early injury scare for Hughton when goalkeeper Colin Doyle hurt his shoulder colliding with the post as he collected Ian Evatt's header.

In the 13th minute, King fired an ambitious overhead kick past the post and moments later Redmond thrashed beyond the bar after Chris Burke found joy down the Blackpool left.

Evatt glanced wide as Blues full-back David Murphy botched a routine clearance from a corner, but by the time Seasiders midfielder Angel Martinez saw a spectacular volley dip over in the 25th minute the game's earlier intensity had quelled.

King might have done better when his shot from Burke's cutback went over at the end of a clinical 40th-minute counter attack.

It was a miss he lived to regret just before the interval when Ince's low effort deflected off Davies and squirmed home past a wrong-footed Doyle.

Following a cagey start to the second period, Blackpool emerged as the stronger side and Blues full-back Peter Ramage produced a last-ditch block to deny Taylor-Fletcher from Matt Phillips' low cross.

In the 63rd minute, Ince collected full-back Neal Eardley's hopeful ball forward to dazzle the Birmingham defence with some languid twists and turns which deserved better than Dobbie's wasteful shot over from his subsequent pass.

Ince had established himself as the game's outstanding player and, having earned his side a free-kick in a dangerous position moments earlier, he danced in from the left and forced Doyle out to claw the ball from his toes.

Holloway introduced Nouha Dicko and Kevin Phillips in a straight swap for forwards Dobbie and Taylor-Fletcher and the latter thought he had made an instant impact against his former club, only to be flagged offside after heading home a right-wing cross from namesake Matt.

King was agonisingly close to levelling the tie in the first minute of stoppage time, stretching to steer Wade Elliott's knockdown against the woodwork.

BlackpoolTeam StatisticsBirmingham City
1Goals0
11st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target1
8Shots off Target8
4Blocked Shots1
5Corners3
5Fouls6
5Offsides7
0Yellow Cards0
0Red Cards0
79.4Passing Success58.6
17Tackles19
64.7Tackles Success68.4
63.6Possession36.4
53.4Territorial Advantage46.6
534Total Passes295
19Total Crosses13
204Lost Balls196
49Recoveries56

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Matches

Table

Sky Bet Championship

Sky Bet Championship
Pos Team P Pts
1 Bournemouth 24 48
2 Ipswich Town 23 44
3 Middlesbrough 24 43
4 Derby County 23 42
5 Watford 24 41
6 Brentford 24 40
7 Norwich City 24 37
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 24 37
9 Blackburn Rovers 24 35
10 Nottingham Forest 24 31
11 Charlton Athletic 23 31
12 Cardiff City 24 31
13 Sheffield Wednesday 23 31
14 Birmingham City 24 31
15 Bolton Wanderers 24 29
16 Reading 24 29
17 Fulham 23 28
18 Huddersfield Town 24 28
19 Rotherham United 24 26
20 Leeds United 23 24
21 Millwall 24 23
22 Wigan Athletic 23 20
23 Brighton and Hove Albion 23 20
24 Blackpool 24 14

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