Expect a thriller between the ‘Comeback Kids’

Exeter City sat bottom of League 2 in November. In February, Blackpool were stranded in 15th place.

By rights these two squads should be laying their towels down by the pool this weekend, ordering ‘dos cervezas por favor’.

Instead they’ll joust for unexpected glory in the League 2 play-off final; a bonus promotion showpiece neither club expected to frequent.

And in many respects it’s a win-win day for the neutral.

No football lover with a shred of empathy would begrudge Blackpool’s long-suffering fans a spot of cheer beneath the arch.

Handcuffed to a charmless, despicable, fan-hating owner that refuses to end his crusade to strip the club of its assets and soul – rubbing it into the supporters’ faces as he goes along his poisonous way – the Tangerine diehards who’ve seen their side plummet down the pyramid, deserve a pick me up.

Not that there will be many of them in attendance at Wembley.

Due to an ‘ethical boycott’ designed not to lace Karl Oyston’s pockets with any more money, less than 6,000 are expected to turn up on Sunday.

While that dignified protest is entirely justifiable, it’s a shame for Gary Bowyer and his team that they won’t have more support behind them.

The ex-Blackburn Rovers boss has built a quality team in difficult circumstances.

Physically strong, well organised and extremely slippery on the break, Blackpool have attracted plenty of admirers in League 2 this term. Home and away they’ve been a real handful.

Guaranteed to arrive with a decent game plan, and with healthy options on the bench, I’m surprised they are rated as 9/5 underdogs.

Fans of fluid attacking football may side with Paul Tisdale’s likable Grecians.

The best-dressed boss in the lower leagues has worked wonders on a tiny budget for 11 years, sticking with a philosophy that urges his young players to express themselves.

Producing a lovely brand of football, with positivity very much the name of their game, they are often fun to watch. In the semi-finals they bagged six goals over two thrill-a-minute legs against Carlisle.

One player to look out for is the talented Ollie Watkins.

Wearing the 14 shirt, Exeter’s youth product has a bit of the Thierry Henry about him, and on the back of a crucial brace in the semi-final, he will be relishing the chance to strut his stuff in front of the TV cameras.

He’s powerful and a composed finisher that’s attracted the attention of Southampton and Leeds United among others. A man of the match display here could spark a summer bidding war.

Winger David Wheeler is another who might turn it on.

He broke an 83-year old club record when scoring in seven consecutive games earlier on this season, and is noted for his aerial prowess despite standing at less than six foot.

No matter which way I look at this extremely even-looking final, all I can see is goals.

The Over 3.5 goals market stands out at 43/20, and I’d not be surprised if the Over 4.5 came into play either. That’s a 51/10 shot.

I can’t see this being cagey.

If I have to side with anyone, it would be Blackpool.

They tend to make fewer mistakes at the back, and goal threats such as Kyle Vassell, Mark Cullen, Nathan Delfounso and Neil Danns have enough experience to keep their heads in those big game changing moments.

I’m going bold with a prediction of 3-2 to the Tangerines (27/1) but there’s also a temptation to settle for a Blackpool win with both teams to score at 21/5.

If I could fix it so that both went up to League 1 that would work for me, but only one can prevail.

A pathway back to the Premier League is unlikely, but I suspect it’s Blackpool’s players who will be the happier when they finally get round to ordering those poolside beers.

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