|Adam curls his free kick into the corner to put Blackpool ahead [GALLO/GETTY]|
Blackpool clinched a lucrative place in the English Premier League with a 3-2 win over Cardiff City in the Championship play-off final at Wembley stadium in London.
Ian Holloway’s unfashionable side from a down-at-heel northern seaside town fought back from behind twice before taking a decisive lead through Brett Ormerod at the end of a sensational first half.
Michael Chopra had given Cardiff a dream start on Saturday but Charlie Adam equalised for Blackpool soon after and, although Joe Ledley restored Cardiff’s advantage, the Seasiders equalised again through Gary Taylor-Fletcher before veteran striker Ormerod bagged the winner.
Ormerod’s goal is worth an estimated $150 million dollars to Blackpool as a result of the increased revenue streams on offer in the Premier League and the massively improved parachute payments awarded to teams relegated from the top-flight from next season.
The club from Lancashire, more famous as an ageing working class holiday resort than a centre of football excellence, have spent the last 30 years sustained only by distant memories of the Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen-inspired 1953 FA Cup final win.
But bankrolled by Lavtian millionaire Valeri Belokon, Blackpool have been able to climb from the third division to earn a place alongside Chelsea and Manchester United in just four years.
Cardiff had received a pre-match boost when Peter Whittingham declared himself fit after a groin injury and the midfielder was the provider as Dave Jones’ side made a fast start.
Chopra put the Welsh side ahead in the ninth minute as he timed a run perfectly to stay onside before firing a superb strike into the far corner from the edge of the penalty area.
That setback could have shattered Blackpool’s morale but Holloway’s team recovered impressively.
When Stephen McPhail handled just outside the area in the 13th minute, Scotland international Adam underlined his reputation as one of the best midfielders outside the top-flight with a fine curling free-kick that flashed into the top corner of David Marshall’s goal.
Jones’ men regained the lead with an incisive break in the 37th minute to see Ledley finish an inspired run.
Cardiff’s celebrations lasted just four minutes before Taylor-Fletcher put Blackpool back on level terms.
Ian Evatt hooked an overhead kick towards goal. His effort was chested off the line by Mark Kennedy but Taylor-Fletcher was on hand to score with a brave close-range header from the rebound.
Incredibly there was still time for another goal before the interval.
In the first minute of stoppage time, DJ Campbell caused panic in the Cardiff defence with a jinking run and, when he miscued his shot, the ball ran through for Ormerod to bury a low shot under Marshall.