Holloway eyes big payday for Blackpool as they take first step towards promotion

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The Independent Football

Ian Holloway and Billy Davies, the respective managers of Blackpool and Nottingham Forest talk a good game, and as Saturday's Championship play-off semi-final first leg was a good game, they talked. And talked. And talked.

Animated chat had begun in the technical area during the match. Davies: "It was just the usual, we are who we are, he likes to wind up, we like to wind up, he wants to win, we want to win." Phil Dowd, a Premier League referee wisely drafted in, joined the exchanges to rebuke Davies in between taking eight players' names.

All the talk after the game might have been beneficial in dissipating nervous energy, although questioners had to tread carefully. "Have you been drinking, my friend?" Holloway asked a newspaperman who dared to wonder if Blackpool might be better off staying in the Championship for another year. His argument was: "The money they get there is grossly unfair but we need it, so we'll have a go."

It would be a wonderfully romantic tale, after finishing 19th and 16th in successive seasons at a ground with a terrible pitch, only three stands and a capacity of little more than 12,000. Beware, however, of ever referring to Blackpool as a small club. Holloway: "It really does bug me. It's a total insult. Have a look at our history. Life's tough and it's a tough area, there isn't much money around, and until this year we've only had half a ground. We don't get that much revenue, which we need to improve. Hopefully people will see how we're trying to play and bring their mates along."

Davies's scorn was reserved for the suggestion that his team might have deserved a draw: "A draw? The first five minutes we should have been two or three goals up. I've no doubt we should have won the game."

They looked like doing so after Chris Cohen's superb half-volley, which the midfielder described as "the best goal of my career by an absolute mile". Forest enjoyed the better of the first half, but Keith Southern miscued a fortunate equaliser and Blackpool were on top in the second period, when Charlie Adam's penalty won the game.

So Tuesday's second leg is neatly poised and neither manager was unhappy. Holloway, in fact, is ecstatic after his first season: "I'm so proud of these lads that I could burst. Our badge says 'Progress' and I think we're making progress. People can talk about big clubs, small clubs, fat clubs, thin clubs, I don't care. I didn't have a job for a year and that's an awful long time to worry and now I'm loving it. It's brilliant."

Then, after a brief digression about banks, public money and coalition governments, he was off to talk some more to delighted supporters waiting outside the main gate. They, too, can be proud of Blackpool, whatever happens on Tuesday.

Blackpool (4-3-4): Gilks; Coleman, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey; Vaughan, Southern, Adam; Ormerod (Dobbie, 82), Taylor-Fletcher (Burgess, 79), Campbell (Bannan, 82). Substitutes not used Rachubka (gk), Clarke, Euell, Edwards.

Nottingham Forest (4-3-3): Camp; Perch, Wilson, Morgan, Gunter; McKenna, Majewski (McGoldrick, 78), Cohen; Tyson (McGugan, 90), Blackstock (Earnshaw, 78), Anderson. Substitutes not used Smith (gk), Chambers, Garner, Boyd.

Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Booked: Blackpool Evatt, Coleman, Vaughan Forest Blackstock, Perch, McKenna, Gunter, Earnshaw.

Attendance 11,805.