Blackpool vs Lincoln | Sunday 30th May 2021, 15:00 | Sky Sports
It’s the League One play-off final at Wembley on Sunday and I am hoping that the game opens up, the pressure doesn’t get to the players.
Over the past eight years the League One play-off final has averaged three goals per-game, so history tells us there should be goals. The semi-finals produced 14 goals, 116 shots – with an average of 29 per- game, 16 bookings, the woodwork hit six times and a penalty miss. If the final produces half as much action it should be a good watch.
Yet, the stats from the season suggest it might not be that entertaining with Blackpool keeping 22 clean sheets in 46 games – the most in League One – with Lincoln not far behind on 19, with no side keeping more away shutouts than the Imps.
Looking back at the form that the Seasiders come into this game, its impressive with fives clean sheets from their last six, including the 3-0 win at Oxford in the 1st leg and have now conceded just five goals in their last 10 games, three of which came in the second leg when Oxford where chucking men forward and Blackpool knew they were all but through to the final.
Over the semi-finals Blackpool conceded just five shots on target whereas Lincoln conceded nine with Sunderland racking up a total xG of 3.92 with 25 shots in the box. Sunderland should have scored in both games, hitting the crossbar in the first game and finding the keeper in fine form.
Lincoln have been inconsistent over the latter half the season with a record since the end of January of W7-D8-L8 with wins over Burton, Bristol Rovers, MK Dons and Shrewsbury confirming there play off place. When facing the top six sides this season Lincoln have kept just two clean sheets 0-0 at Hull and 2-0 at home to Oxford with the Us managing 1.16 xG with 6 shots on target.
Lincoln could have been out of the game in the first half of the second leg, but an impressive second 45 mins saw them score and having plenty of chances to add to their tally and they deserve their place at Wembley. I am just not sure that Lincoln can afford to give up that many chances to Blackpool.
Lincoln gave up 25 shots in the box over the two games against Sunderland. Blackpool scored six goals from 15 shots on target and three goals from five shots on target in the second leg. They are clinical.
Obviously these two sides have faced each other before this season with a 2-2 and 3-2 win for Lincoln. However, I don’t think we should look too carefully at the Lincoln win as this was when Blackpool were struggling at the start of the season with a new manager and new players.
After Blackpool suffered defeat to Lincoln the following week they played Ipswich, who were one of the lowest scorers in the division and they hit four past them. It wasn’t until November that Blackpool settled down and for me, have been one of the best teams in the division from that point onwards.
Blackpool still managed 32 shots and 10 shots on target over these two games against Lincoln whilst the Imps replied with 19 shots and nine shots on target.
Despite the clean sheets I think there will be goals here. In Jerry Yates (21 goals) and on-loan Everton man Ellis Simms (10) Blackpool have a real goal threat and I fancy the Seasiders to find net at least twice here.
As I have already mentioned they scored twice against the Imps on both occasions this season, not only that they have scored 1.5+ in six of the 10 games against the top six sides this season, only failing to score in one of these games. Lincoln kept many clean sheets this season, but against the top six they managed just two from 10 and just six against the top 10.
This season Lincoln have a xGA of 1.22 and conceded an average of 11.7 shots with 3.74 shots on target. When facing the top six sides this increases to 1.71 xGA with 14 shots and 5 shots on target.
In comparison Blackpool see their figures move from 1.55 xG, 12.39 shots and 4.09 shots on target, to a xG 1.503, 11.2 shots and 4.4 shots on target when facing the top six. It’s clear that Blackpool are a strong team regardless of the opposition whereas Lincoln sees a drop off when facing the better sides.
I make Blackpool the favourites for this game and was a little surprised to see them at 99/100 on a -0.25 Asian Handicap and I am happy to take this on. We would get a 50% refund of our stake if the game ends in a draw and whilst Lincoln shouldn’t be underestimated.
I thought at times there rode their luck in the semi-final with big moments going their way. Blackpool where ruthless in the first leg and I am expecting to see them stick to the plan that has served them so well this season. Remember Blackpool have lost just three times in the past 28 games keeping clean sheets in 16 of them.
My last bet is a Bet Builder. Nine of the last 10 League One play-off final games have seen a second half card. Both games between these two sides this season have seen at least one card after half-time. The Seasiders have seen at least one second-half card in 39 of their 48 games this season and Lincoln in 43 of 48 games.
I want to take both sides to hit at least three corners too. Blackpool average 4.88 corners and 4.65 corner conceded this season, whilst they hit 3 or more in 43 of their 48 games this season. The Imps won an average of 5.48 corners and conceded 4.52. They hit three or more in 44 of 48 games this season.
Lincoln had 15 and 10 goal kicks as a result of conceding 30 shots against Sunderland. This season they have conceded an average of 7.9 goal kicks, and I strongly fancy Blackpool to hit six or more.
This means that I am going to take Blackpool Over 0 Goals, Lincoln Over 5.5 Goal-Kicks, Over 0 Second-Half Cards and Both Teams Over 2 Corners at 21/20 with Bet365 as my last play.
Blackpool vs Lincoln – Blackpool Over 1.5 Goals (2/1 Red Zone)
Blackpool vs Lincoln – Blackpool -0.25 Asian Handicap (99/100 Redzone)
Blackpool vs Lincoln – Blackpool Over 0 Goals, Lincoln Over 5.5 Goal-Kicks, Both Teams Over 2 Corners and Over 0 Second-Half Cards (21/20 Bet365)