The pressure is on for both Blackpool and Birmingham City as they go head to head in the first-leg of their Championship play-off semi-final on Friday evening, although Bet365’s price of 6/4 on offer on Ian Holloway’s side is sure to attract plenty of support, after it emerged that Birmingham manager Chris Hughton was a candidate for the vacant West Brom job.
After finishing 4th and 5th in the Championship table, these two teams – who were both relegated from the Premier League last year – will be looking to make an immediate return to the top-flight.
Massive credit must go to them for bouncing back from relegation with a positive season and there is no doubt that Blackpool boss Ian Holloway and Birmingham manager Chris Hughton have done fantastic jobs.
Focusing on Blackpool to begin with, they come into the play-off matches on the back of a seven game unbeaten run, so there is no doubt that they have some momentum.
They have also been in fantastic form at Bloomfield Road with just one defeat in their last 16 matches and this is something they will hope continues on Friday evening.
One man who they will be looking to for goals is experienced striker Kevin Phillips. The former Birmingham man has scored 16 goals in the Championship this season and would love to add to his tally to assist Blackpool’s promotion bid.
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As for Birmingham, they had to deal with all manner of problems at the start of the season and credit must go to them for recovering and securing a play-off spot.
Back in December when they lost three out of four games, the Premier League seemed a long way away. However, they have gone on to lose only three matches in 2012 and are currently on the back of a nine game unbeaten run. Like Blackpool, they are in good spirits right now.
When these two teams met earlier in the season at Bloomfield Road, it ended in a 2-2 draw and there is no doubt that this is expected to be another tight contest.
With the play-offs though, anything can happen and it should be an entertaining evening of football from 7.45pm on Friday evening.