Arsenal loanee Daniel Ballard started the League One playoff semi-final for Blackpool away to Oxford United on Tuesday.

Daniel Ballard of Blackpool during the Sky Bet League 1 Play-Off Semi-Final 1st leg between Oxford United and Blackpool at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford. Copyright: Martyn Haworth
Daniel Ballard of Blackpool during the Sky Bet League 1 Play-Off Semi-Final 1st leg between Oxford United and Blackpool at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford. Copyright: Martyn Haworth

After such a strong end to the season, Blackpool and Daniel Ballard entered into the playoffs on Tuesday. They kicked off their promotion attempt with a trip to Oxford United, with the home fans welcomed back into the stands.

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Blackpool have been a bit of a clean sheet machine this season, keeping 14 in Ballard’s 27 matches with them before Tuesday night, and they added to that tally in Oxford.

In fact, the first leg could hardly have gone much better. Oliver Turton and Ellis Simms gave Blackpool a 2-0 lead by half-time, which they increased to 3-0 with another goal 16 minutes from the end.

At the back, Ballard put in another commanding display. He blocked three shots, made two clearances, and an interception, whilst winning four of his six aerial duels. Once again, he helped them earn the clean sheet in their 3-0 win.

The centre-back’s long passing was also effective and he even created a chance for his team at the other end.

Blackpool will now head back to their home ground with a three-goal advantage to maintain or increase on Friday. After that, it looks like a trip to Wembley could be on the cards.