Ian Holloway says Blackpool will need monumental effort against Birmingham


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The Independent Football

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway insists it will take a monumental effort from his players to preserve their slender npower Championship play-off semi-final advantage over Birmingham.

Curtis Davies' own goal in last Friday's first game is all that separates the sides going into tomorrow night's clash at St Andrew's.

Chris Hughton's Blues boast an impressive home record, losing only once on their own patch all season to leave Holloway convinced of the scale of the task at hand.

"It's going to take every ounce of everything we've got going down there with their crowd and their passion," he said.

"I needed a lead, we've got a very slender lead. We won the first game and I think that's a marker to them. We didn't beat them this year.

"I'm looking forward to it, I can't be worried. I'd be worried if we were not in this situation. I feel my team deserved it on Friday night."

The first leg was Blackpool's first win over Birmingham in five attempts and a marked improvement on their 3-0 league defeat in the midlands on New Year's Eve, where Holloway was sent to the stands for protesting against a red card shown to captain Barry Ferguson.

By contrast, the club boast superb play-off pedigree, having won their last 10 matches in the format.

A dramatic passage to the Barclays Premier League two seasons ago, courtesy of 2-1 and 4-3 wins over Nottingham Forest and a 3-2 final triumph over Cardiff, came on the back of successful 2001 and 2007 campaigns to earn promotion to the third tier and Championship respectively.

Holloway is relishing the prospect of extending that sequence having impressively rebuilt a squad shorn of key players such as Charlie Adam, DJ Campbell and David Vaughan on the back of relegation last term.

"I've been a manager a long, long time and now I feel like I'm really enjoying this group as well," he said.

"I asked the other group to show me their understanding of what I wanted.

"They've got a massive pitch, we've got to go and try to play our game. Can we impose our game on them at their ground in the biggest moment of our lives?

"We did it before at Notts Forest, can this group emulate that? It will be one heck of an achievement if we do. All you can ask for is a performance."

Blackpool had to travel to the City Ground to complete the job against Forest, leaving Holloway unconcerned with regards to the perceived advantage of playing at home second, and he is primed for a memorable occasion.

"It's all set up for another great evening," he added. "It's not here, it's down there, but I don't think any of that matters.

"It will be a great night. I'm looking forward to it. The Brummie people love their football.

"Passion? You won't get better than there. It's absolutely brilliant."