Stephen Dobbie was left heartbroken after Blackpool’s 3-2 defeat by Millwall at Bloomfield Road confirmed their relegation from the Championship.
Millwall forward Tom Bradshaw scored a fine brace, including a brilliantly worked team goal after just two minutes, either side of Jerry Yates’ penalty for the home side.
Lewis Fiorini then went from hero to scoreless for Blackpool after a wonderfully taken goal from outside the box leveled the scores after 67 minutes, only for him to defeat Duncan Watmore for a Millwall penalty eight minutes after Zian Flemming duly concealed .
That proved to be the final nail in the coffin for the Seasiders and ended their two-year stay in the league, something interim manager Dobbie admitted was difficult to accept.
He said: “Of course we’re suffering, we’re all suffering after that – it’s disappointing because we didn’t get it back in the second half.
“I let the boys know at half-time, they had done well in the first half but I felt the need to remind them what was at stake.
“It was difficult to lose a penalty so late in the game, for them to win at the end was a huge blow, but overall I can’t fault any of the lads tonight.
“They have been fantastic, just as they have been since I took over.
“They’ve been pretty incredible for me and I’ve really enjoyed them, but I guess now that’s the learning aspect for the club.
“It’s going to be an interesting summer, there will probably be a squad change, but that’s for later.
“We still have one game to play, and we owe it to everyone to give our all again and we have to give our all for the fans.”
As is often the case in sport, the agony felt by those in orange was mirrored by the sheer ecstasy of Millwall’s traveling supporters, who now sense a real chance for the Championship play-offs.
The victory lifted them to fifth place and, if results go right, they could be guaranteed a top-six place before their clash with fellow play-off chasers Blackburn at The Den next Monday.
For manager Gary Rowett though, it was just about getting through the night, something he stressed was difficult against a stubborn Blackpool side.
“I thought we’d almost run the game tonight,” he said.
“We knew we would have to work hard to get a result here tonight against a tough Blackpool side.
“However, there is no easy way to cross the line. We’ve seen big clubs like Norwich, West Brom and Watford struggle at different stages this season, so for us to be where we are is a testament to all our players.
“I’ve got a bunch of really honest guys here – they’ve always shown a bit of a fight, and that’s what you need.
“We produced some great finishing too, real quality and I thought we looked really composed.
“We weren’t necessarily in control, because Blackpool are a decent team, but we overcame some adversity.
“We’ll have to see what happens tomorrow now, that puts us in a good position, but we could still need a win next week to secure the top six.”