By Steve Wilson
Published: 2:38PM BST 22 May 2010
Lats chance saloon for Cardiff. The ball is punted forward. Ledley can't control. it's sent back in. Coleman heads clear. Last cross of the game and Gilks collects. it's all over. Blackpool are up!!!!
Foul by Crainey on the half way line gives Cardiff the chance to launch the ball forward. Blackpool make their final subsitution to try and eat in to a few more seconds. The punt in to the box only finds a Blackpool head. desperation for Cardiff now as the dream, if not having died just yet, is being led the last rights.
A goalbound header from Ledley was adecnt effort but from 18 yards it never had the pace to beat Gilks who collects comfortably.
This game that started with a bang and kept on exploding is ending with a whimper - as designed by Blackpool's - as we go in to four minutes of added time.
Blackpool's fans have started the party already as their team keep possession in the Cardiff half.
Gerrard had the ball at his feet in a bit of space in the Blackpool box but failed to pull the trigger. It wasn't an easy chance but he needed to act sharply there and didn't. Ball goes up the other end and Blackpool waste an opportunity with Campbell holding on too long too. Nerves all over the place now.
Blackpool taking their time over every set piece now to try and kill the game. With some success it has to be said. Scrappy affair now. Still time for a late twist though.
Chopra looks frustrated. And well he might. He's been excellent today but has had little support after Bothroyd went off in the first half. Gerrard is pushed forward to give him a little help.
Adam is still fighting for the cause – a little too literally in a blatant push on Whittingham to concede a needless free kick inside his own half. Ledley’s delivery isn’t the best tough and panic over. For now.
Blackpool have gone it to full ‘protect what we hold’ mode. It doesn’t suit them. They are a side built to attack. Cardiff are getting closer and closer. the latest as weak shot in to Gilks’ arms but there is a sense of Cardiff starting to believe and Blackpool starting to panic a touch.
We’re getting down to the business end of this game and Cardiff, as you would expect, are forcing the issues. They are dominating the ball as Blackpool retreat in to that frustrating and dangerous defensive mindset that teams do when protecting a lead late on. It’s now a pattern of Cardiff pressure punctuated by the odd Blackpool break.
Heart in mouth moment for Blackpool, and especially Gilks in their goal. Cardiff had done well to retain possession and work the ball out to the left. A poor, looping cross was the goalkeeper’s all the way. Chopra challenged him and did enough to make Gilks spill it. the ball bobbled an inch wide of the unguarded net. Gilks, as goalkeepers do, claimed he was fouled. He wasn’t. And it would have counted.
McNaughton, who has been in the wars all match, becomes the latest Cardiff player to go off injured. That's their three changes made and all forced on them. On comes Gerrard (not that one, it's his cousin).
Chopra appeals for something as Crainey leans in to him and sticks him on his backside when the two were in a futile race for the ball in to the Blackpool box that the Blackpool goalkeeper had long since won. The referee isn't interested. And rightly so.
Tired legs and tired minds out there now. Both sides giving up possession needlessly. It isn't pretty but it increases the sense that there are more goals in the offing here.
Terrific running from Crainey saw him overlap down the left but his effort was not matched by his touch and a wasteful cross with men in the box. Blackpool's turn to see a bit of the ball.
Cardiff down to 10 for the moment with McPhail off for treatment.
Cardiff are starting to show flashes of their slick passing and there are chances coming – Etuhu the latest to flash an effort wide, though the ball bobbled at an inopportune moment for him to be fair. The tension is building as we move in to the final stages of the game with Blackpool with one foot in the Premier League. I have a feeling there are more twists and turns in this one yet though.
After a relatively quiet opening to the second half - relative to the madcap first half anyway - we are cranking through the gears again now. Hold on to your hats.
Half the Wembley crowd – and yours truly – thought we had a sixth goal. A whipped in corner was met at the near post by Ledley but his glancing header flashed across the goal and went narrowly wide. Then at the other end Southern worked some space 25 yards out and unleashed a fierce shot but got underneath it and it was still rising when it sailed past the goal.
Another strike from distance from Adam goes wide. It was worth a punt but the ball was coming across him and he never properly got his foot round it.
Chopra continues to be Cardiff's best hope of an equaliser here. A lucky break 25 yards out saw the ball nudged through to him and his instant strike at goal had beaten the goalkeeper all ends up but rattled the crossbar on route to a goal kick. Deserved more from that possibly, a terrific effort.
There's confidence and there's over-confidence. Adam tried a Xabi Alonso style punt at goal from his own half. It barely reached the dead ball line.
Chance for Blackpool to extend their lead but Taylor-Fletcher’s pass to Campbell sold his team-mate short, forcing him to cut inside in to traffic when there was space on the outside on the edge of the box. Taylor-Fletcher’s injury may have played a part in that. It is his last contribution as Burgess is thrown on in his place.
Blackpool’s turn to have concerns over the health of one of their forwards. Taylor-Fletcher is wearing the face of a man who has just taken a swig from a pint of milk that has been left out in the sun.
Etuhu showed his pace for the first time to play a one-two that set him free in space on the left. Plenty of time to pick his cross but he over cooked it and the chance was lost.
Ormerod clashes with McNaughton and the Cardiff man comes off second best. Worrying moments as he doesn't move for a while but he's up and running again now.
A minute of the second half gone and no addition to the scores. Bah!
From John Ley at Wembley on Twitter: "Half time and a chance for water and a moment to reflect on one of the most remarkarble 45 minutes in Wembley history. Loving it."
From Rory Smith on Twitter: "Right, well I think we can say for certain that both #cardiff and #blackpool will concede a lot of goals in the Premier League"
From Mark Ogden on Twitter: "Blackpool players apparently on £5m squad bonus to go up. Deal agreed last summer when relegation favs. No wonder they're not giving up."
HALF TIME: Cardiff City 2 Blackpool 3
And breath...a roller coaster of a game to rival anything you can find at Blackpool Pleasure Beach has earned a 15 minute break. Ormerod’s goal late on makes Ian Holloway’s dressing room a happier place to be than Dave Jones’ – though Cardiff did have time to put the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside.
The game was billed as two attacking teams ready to throw off any shackles the occasion would give them – and it lived up to it from the off. It started at breakneck speed and never slowed down, save a five minute spell after 25 minutes. Glorious stuff. My fingers hurt.
45 min: GOAL!!! CArdiff City 2 Blackpool 3. Brett Ormerod
Sweet Lord ... this is the game that just keeps giving. As minds were turning to half time pints and pies Blackpool take the lead for the first time. it owed more to perspiration than inspiration but the relentless attacking nature of Blackpool’s team just knocked Cardiff back on their heels. Campbell slipped – again – when he had a glorious chance but the ball spilt up for Ormerod to crash it home from a tight angle.
It had all gone quiet over there – for about five minutes – before this game exploded in to life again. It isn’t the highest standard of football you will ever see in your life but two teams committed to attack going toe-to-toe with enough decent players on show to give it a splash of style is making for a barnstorming affair. Long may it continue.
40 mins: GOAL!!! Cardiff City 2 Blackpool 2. Taylor-Fletcher.
Back to the harem scarum football of the opening period. Blackpool back on level terms again inside two minutes. Taylor-Fletcher even had time to hit the post before he bravely threw himself through a crowd to head in from a couple of yards out, picking up a head wound for his troubles. He doesn’t seem too bothered mind.
38 mins: GOAL!!! Cardiff City 2 Blackpool 1. Joe Ledley.
Blackpool almost deserve that. They have pressed and pressed and pressed but haven’t come close to scoring while Cardiff have soaked up he pressure and have quality to hurt their opponents on the break. None more than Ledley, possibly the best player on the pitch. he worked a passing move through the middle and then surged off the last defender on the left to power in to the box before cooly finished with a calmness that belied the occasion.
Cardiff continue to prove they are always a goal threat. A quick break was well worked to the right where Chopra found the byline and was heading towards goal before a crunching but legitimate and perfectly timed tackle sent both man and ball out of play.
Campbell is possibly the first to suffer the curse of the Wembley pitch. Either that or he just lost his balance. An angled ball in to the box was there to attack but as he tried to set himself he fell over his own feet.
A spot of keep ball from the Blackpool defenders is not appreciated by the Cardiff fans but there are a few players out there grateful for the breather.
After the frenetic opening a little calm has settled over the game now.
Despite Blackpool's dominance Cardiff just carved out the best chance in the last 15 minutes. A glorious ball from Ledley dipped in between two Blackpool defenders where Chopra had bought half a yard. It was coming over his shoulder and a little tricky but he will be disappointed with the poor connection he made with the volley 18 yards out - corner flag troubled more than the goal.
Holloway and Jones stalk the touchline in collar and cuffs looking like new arrivals at some Mediterranean holiday resort in need of changing in to shorts and T-shirt. It's very sunny in London today, in case you hadn't picked that up so far.
Like the waves lapping the shores of Blackpool beach, or the waves of drunken holiday makers spilling out on to the sea front there at closing time, Blackpool just keep coming and coming at the Cardiff defence.
Blackpool are seeing plenty of the ball, their confidence restored by that moment of brilliance from Adam. Cardiff look a little shaken by losign their leads so quickly and seeign Bothroyd go off injured. Ian Holloway's team could do with making something tangible from this spell of pressure.
DJ Campbell showed in the semi-final second leg against Nottingham Forest that he has a wide range of quality finishing in his locker. He's just proved he can take an air shot like the best of them too. In the middle of the 'D' all alone a low cross came and went past him under molested by his swinging right foot.
From Rory Smith on Twitter: Brilliant Charlie Adam free kick brings it level. He belongs in the premier league, no doubt about that.
Blackpool have reached this stage with an almost Kevin Keegan style philosophy of 'if you score two we'll score three'. It's the kind of approach that would make someone like Jose Mourinho contemptuous but it's making for a cracking game today.
We've got the game we wanted now. But sadly the rest of it will not feature Bothroyd who hobbles off looking very dejected. Etuhu replaces him. A good couple of minutes for Blackpool then.
12 min: GOAL!!! Cardif City 1 Blackpool 1. Charlie Adam
We're all square again after a terrific 25-yard free-kick from Blackpool's inspiration and biggest goal threat. Absolute cracker that if a Brazilian does it this summer in South Africa will have everyone salivating at its beauty. Superb!
A Cardiff attack looked to have floundered with Chopra about 15 yards offside when possession was retained in midfield. He slowly snuck his way back to be level with no one picking him up. A turn and go signposted where the pass needed putting and he was on it like a flash. Still had plenty to do to beat Gilks in the Blackpool goal but a beautiful angled shot to the far post was inch perfect.
08min: GOAL!!! Cardiff 1 Blackpool 1. Michael Chopra
Blackpool didn't listen to the warning and some more smart movement from Chopra gives him the chance to set cardiff on their way. Cracking finish.
The Wembley pitch, in its 114th incarnation since the last play-off final was staged here, looks as ragged as a drunk stepping off an hour on the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Both teams, though, are still admirably looking to play it on the floor when ever they can.
Now Cardiff's turn to suffer a scare - Bothroyd is already limping. I didn't see how he hurt himself but he's moving as gingerly as an Irish dancing troop.
Copra and Bothroyd have been one of the best front two pairings this season and Chopra shows why in the opening stages. A smart run towards the near post loses his man and only the width of the post prevents Cardiff going one up as he flicked a low cross up and off the frame of the goal. Early warning for Blackpool - one they shouldn't have needed.
Blackpool are the first to launch anything resembling an attack - a hopeful ball in to the box that Marshall in the Cardiff goal misjudged but his centre backs were more alert and snuffed out the danger.
The pitch side thermomotor has nudged its way past 34 degrees now with two thirds of the pitch in burning sunshine. A good time to be on the beach. Particularly in Blackpool as half the town is down in London for the day.
From John Ley at Wembley on Twitter: "The colours at Wembley are kaleidoscopic, the atmosphere electric and anticipation nail biting."
Blackpool: Gilks, Coleman, Baptiste, Evatt, Crainey, Vaughan, Southern, Adam, Campbell, Taylor-Fletcher, Ormerod. Subs: Rachubka, Clarke, Burgess, Euell, Edwards, Bannan, Dobbie.
Cardiff: Marshall, McNaughton, Blake, Hudson, Kennedy, Burke, Whittingham, McPhail, Ledley, Chopra, Bothroyd.
Subs: Enckelman, Capaldi, Quinn, Gerrard, Etuhu, Wildig, McCormack.
Referee: Andre Marriner (W Midlands)
Ian Holloway doesn’t buy it that Blackpool are underdogs (though they are). He has told his players to play the game not the occasion. Even the West Country bard and 15th funniest man in London 2005 isn’t scared of a cliché then.
From John Ley at Wembley on Twitter: "No anthems at Wembley today -- to avoid booing both God Save The Queen and Land of My Fathers. What a pity."
It’s a scorching hot day in north London with temperatures on the tube falling outside EU permitted limits for heat when carrying cattle to slaughter houses.
But the men, women and children packed on to The Bakerloo line bedecked in garish orange, complete with jester hats and meting face paint, or understated royal blue didn’t seem to care. Well, some of them did. But not now they are flag waving inside Wembley Stadium.
The players are currently warming up on what Sky Sports’ Dave Jones has already described twice as ‘the scorched earth of the Wembley turf’ and the tension, like the temperature, is rising to the boil nicely.
These matches, unlike the finals of the FA and Carling Cup, are more often than not crackers. the stakes are so high and both sides are fallible, meaning goalmouth action and drama a plenty is promised.
Cardiff City go in as marginal favourites, and are probably the more technically adroit of the two sides. But the groundswell of support from the neutrals seems to be with Blackpool and Ian Holloway, and not just because of that quote about getting a bird back to his for coffee.
Blackpool are the Cinderella team and timed their run in to the end of season bun fight perfectly. Cardiff have a nation behind them. So will the future be orange or will they be singing in the Valleys tonight?
Stay with us for every kick of the ‘richest game in football’. Or go out and enjoy the sunshine. We won’t be offended.