Blackpool 2-1 Exeter City: Tangerines seal promotion back to League One

Blackpool clinched promotion to the EFL League One, after beating Exeter City 2-1 in the League Two play-off final at Wembley Stadium.

Brad Potts fired Blackpool ahead just three minutes in when the midfielder raced onto Mark Cullen’s laid off pass inside the area to apply a quality finish.

Exeter dominated the majority of the opening 45 minutes, and their control paid off five minutes before half-time when David Wheeler levelled the game up as the winger chipped the ball over the head of Sam Slocombe with a smart finish to equalise.

A much more calmer second-half saw Blackpool re-take the lead, as the No.9 Cullen this time got his name on the scoresheet after Potts squared the ball to the lone striker 65 minutes in, helping to seal promotion back to League One.

Blackpool strike early

The Seasiders got off to the best possible start as Potts fired Blackpool ahead just 130 seconds in.

Cullen held up the play as the striker allowed Potts to make a darting run through the Exeter defence, and the 22-year-old midfielder’s strike from just outside the penalty box nestled perfectly into the net to give Blackpool an early lead.

Exeter keep the pressure on

Exeter were far from out of the game, though. Ollie Watkins almost put the West Country side back on level terms when the attacking midfielder spun away from his marker in the Blackpool penalty area and fired a vicious effort on goal, but Slocombe reacted brilliantly and denied the 21-year-old attacker an equalising goal.

The Grecians had started to come into their element 15 minutes, using the pace and physicality of Watkins to charge through the Blackpool defence with great efficiency. The right wing also proved to be weak spot for the Tangerines, as the trickery of Jack Stacey put Exeter through on goal multiple times, but nothing could test Slocombe.

Blackpool were forced into making an early change half-an-hour in, as the captain, Tom Aldred, was forced to come off after picking up an injury from a 50/50 tackle.

Wheeler equalises right on cue

The cracks were showing in the Blackpool defence and they eventually gave way five minutes before the break when Wheeler equalised for Exeter in stunning fashion.

A Craig Woodman free-kick from deep found its way to the Exeter winger, and after getting the better of his marker, Wheeler deftly chipped the ball over Slocombe with a perfectly-weighted finish, looping over the 'keeper and putting Exeter back in the game just before half-time.

The start of the second-half saw Christy Pym make a number of early saves, as Jack Payne and Kyle Vassell both had early attempts to put the ‘Pool ahead early in the second-half, but the former England U20 goalkeeper dealt with the chances with ease.

Exeter had been on the back foot for the majority of the opening stages of the second half, forcing manager Paul Tisdale to bring on attacking players Reuben Reid and Pierce Sweeney just before the hour mark.

Cullen restores the lead

The changes did little to help Exeter, as on the 65-minute mark, Blackpool had restored their lead.

Potts turned provider as the midfielder charged through on goal, and easily squared the ball to Cullen with the goal gapping, and the No.9 poked the ball into the empty net to give Blackpool the lead for a second time.

Reid almost fired Exeter back on level terms 12 minutes later, when the former Plymouth Argyle striker set himself up perfectly for a shot on the edge of the area, but the forward’s strike flew just wide of the far post.

Exeter kept the pressure on Blackpool as the game began to draw to a close, however the West Country side could not find the equalising goal that would had kept their promotion dream alive.

Instead it was the Tangerines who claimed the League Two play-off trophy and their spot in next season's third division