Blackpool's Kevin Phillips eyes long-awaited play-off win
By Phil CartwrightBBC North West Sport
Historically, Kevin Phillips is not fond of play-off finals.
His record reads: played two, lost two.
But the trip to Wembley on Saturday, when Blackpool play West Ham for a place in the Premier League, gives the 38-year-old a chance to right the wrongs of defeats with Sunderland in 1998 and West Bromwich Albion in 2007.
"To still be mixing it with excellent players and the club going to a final is magical for me.
"The Premier League is the place to be. It's a huge occasion for the players because I would say it's the most expensive game in world soccer. There's a lot of pressure on but it would mean everything to the football club."
Kevin Phillips' career stats
65 apps, 25 goals
239 apps, 134 goals
73 apps, 27 goals
2005-06: Aston Villa
27 apps, 5 goals
82 apps, 46 goals
82 apps, 22 goals
44 apps, 17 goals
8 caps, 0 goals
Phillips's record in play-off finals is in direct contrast to that of his club, who have been promoted via the play-offs on four occasions - 1992, 2001, 2007 and most notably in 2010, when they
beat Cardiff 3-2
to secure a return to the top-flight after an absence of 39 years.
Rarely are these games dull affairs, as Phillips found out in arguably the greatest play-off final in history 14 years ago.
He scored early in the second half to put Sunderland 2-1 ahead against Charlton, but was later substituted and could only watch from the sidelines as the match finished 4-4 after extra time, before Michael Gray missed a decisive spot-kick in the resulting penalty shoot-out.
Nine years later, after scoring three times for Albion in the semi-final win over Black Country rivals Wolves, he could not reproduce the same goalscoring form in the final as the Baggies lost 1-0 to Derby.
But while Kevin is approaching the end of a glittering career that has seen him score more than 250 goals, winger Matt Phillips is considered to be one of the hottest properties outside the top division.
The 21-year-old has been in terrific form since returning from a loan spell in League One with Sheffield United in November, and he believes the mixture of youth and experience in the Blackpool squad, particularly in attack, has been pivotal in their run to Wembley.
"We're pleased with the form that Tom Ince, myself, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Stephen Dobbie have been in recently," said the
former Wycombe man.
"We feel that we can always go and score goals. Attacking is what we're best at.
"There are four more players that can come in. We've got the likes of Lomano LuaLua and Kevin, who has been unbelievable. He scores goals for fun.
"There's a mixture of young and old players, and praise needs to go to the manager because of the type of players that we've got here."
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