This is a remarkable achievement on the part of Birmingham considering that they enjoyed a Europa League adventure earlier in the campaign which meant the Blues had a backlog of fixtures although only Nottingham Forest have been able to beat them at St Andrews all term.
Chris Hughton now has a shot of returning to the Premier League eighteen months after he was axed as Newcastle United manager, with Birmingham available at 11/5 (Bet Victor free bets) to draw first blood at Bloomfield Road on Friday night.
Nothing seperated these teams during the regular season, with the Midlands club just one point better off than the Tangerines, who triumphed in the play-offs two years ago and enjoyed an event-filled season in the Premier League before being narrowly relegated.
Ian Holloway saw the likes of David Vaughan, Charlie Adam and DJ Campbell leave last summer and claimed it would be a transitional season at Blackpool, although it hasn’t stopped them finishing in fifth place and Bloomfield Road will be packed to the rafters for this occasion.
Odds of 7/5 (William Hill free £25 bet) are available that the seaside club have some form of advantage going into next week’s second leg and they aren’t used to losing at the moment, with just one defeat from their last ten games played.
Blackpool’s last two home matches have seen them beat Leeds 1-0 before thrashing Burnley 4-0 and there are goals throughout the team including those from Nouha Dicko, a loanee from Wigan who has scored in his last two games.
The striker can be backed at 11/1 (Sky Bet) to score the first goal and that looks a reasonable price based on his recent scoring form, with the more fashionable Kevin Phillips much shorter at 6/1.
Both games between these teams have yielded goals this term, with Blackpool and Birmingham sharing a 2-2 draw in November before the Blues won 3-0 the following month. Although the Tangerines are less gung-ho with their tactics than two years ago, it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the net will be bulging on this occasion.