Town Look to Return to Winning Ways at Blackpool
Friday, 9th Oct 2020 13:24
Unbeaten-in-the-league Town will be looking to return to winning ways when they face Blackpool at Bloomfield Road on Saturday afternoon.
The Blues dropped to third in League One following last week’s 1-1 draw away against the MK Dons, ending the game with 10 men after Flynn Downes was injured with all subs having been made.
Manager Paul Lambert says the Seasiders, who are third-bottom of the League One table having won one and lost three so far, present something of a mystery given the turnaround in personnel over the summer.
“We have to go out there and try and win. It'll be a tough game, but we are playing really well, so we go there and try and do what we've been doing.
“The turnaround from Blackpool has been big so only they will know how they've been playing themselves and what they've been doing. So we try and go and win.”
What stands out to him having watched their games so far this season? “I just think the newness of their team, they have their own idea of how they'll play and what they want to do and I've watched them on the videos.
“But it's what we do, we have to combat what they do and they have to combat what we do. So it's a hard game, but we go there with a lot of confidence to try and win.”
“But defensively, as two blocks of four and the goalkeeper, it was really, really good, and Oli Hawkins up front on his own. There were a lot of good things there defensively that were very, very strong.”
Regarding Hawkins, the lone central striker for the last two league matches with James Norwood (hamstring) and Aaron Drinan (thigh) both sidelined, he added: “Great, really happy with him on and off the pitch.
"He's a really good guy, he's one of those lads who want to do really well because of how he is as a person. And I'm really happy with his contribution since he's been here.”
The game was actually meant to be played on Saturday 14th November but with both teams having their scheduled fixtures postponed due to their opposition - Charlton in Town's case and Sunderland for the Seasiders - having three or more international calls this weekend, it was decided to move it.
Lambert says from Town’s perspective it reduces the miles they will be covering during a busy November.
“So we could potentially be on the road four games on the spin and the travelling could be horrendous.
“So when the league and Blackpool came up with the suggestion, we took it on because the momentum is still there with us so we took it on.
“You could have four games away and that was one of the things, and plus the travelling is long under these circumstances.”
Despite admitting that his side had been “a bit below” last week, Lambert is unlikely to make too many changes from the XI which lined up against the Dons.
Tomas Holy will be in goal with skipper Luke Chambers at right-back and Toto Nsiala and James Wilson the centre-halves.
Stephen Ward suffered an achilles injury last week, is considered a doubt and seems all but certain to miss out. That being the case, Myles Kenlock would make his first league start of the season.
The midfield trio will again be Andre Dozzell, Jon Nolan and Teddy Bishop with Hawkins the central striker, Freddie Sears on the left and Gwion Edwards - or perhaps Alan Judge who returned as a sub last week after a hamstring injury last week - on the right.
Blackpool boss Critchley says the game against the Blues will provide a benchmark for his developing side.
“They’ve had a really strong start to the season,” he told the Tangerines official site. “They’re a big club in this division, so I’m sure they’ll have aspirations of being at the top end of the table this season.
“The game will be a good test for us, it’ll give us a good barometer of where we’re going to be ourselves and our own aspirations this season.
“If we want to be up there at the end of the season, then we’re going to have to compete and get results against teams like Ipswich.”
Despite their disappointing results, he says he been happy with his team’s displays: “Performance-wise so far, there’s been lots to be pleased about.
“I don’t think we’ve got the results our performances have merited, however there are still things we can improve and learn on from all the games.
“I’m confident if we keep performing the way we are, then eventually the results will turn in our favour and we can pick up some quick wins in a short period of time.”
Blackpool signed Icelandic international centre-half Daniel Gretarsson from Norwegian side Aalesunds ahead of the closure of the international transfer window on Monday and Dan Ballard, another central defender, on loan from Arsenal.
Manager Critchley is unsure whether Gretarsson will be involved having trained with his team-mates for the first time yesterday after not playing for a number of weeks.
Left-back James Husband is suspended having been shown a straight red card in last weekend’s 3-2 home defeat to leaders Lincoln City.
Matty Virtue won’t be ready for a return after injury, while another midfielder, Sullay Kaikai (hamstring), is a doubt but Critchley, who was previously manager of Liverpool’s U23s, is hopeful the former Crystal Palace youngster will be fit enough for inclusion on Saturday.
Striker Gary Madine is also thought likely to be fine to face the Blues having been left out of Tuesday’s 1-1 EFL Trophy draw with Accrington Stanley, who won the resultant penalty shot-out, as a precaution after complaining of a back problem.
Centre-half Michael Nottingham joined Accrington Stanley earlier today.
Historically, Town have won 12 games between the sides (11 in the league), 10 have been drawn (10) and Blackpool have won six (five).
The teams last met at Bloomfield Road in February in Town’s final away game before the lockdown when Joe Nuttall’s injury time goal consigned the Blues to a 2-1 defeat.
Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall’s 26th minute goal gave the Tangerines a 1-0 half-time lead but Sears levelled with his first goal of the season on 54 and might have won it seconds before Nuttall’s winner for the home side.
In November last year at Portman Road, Town’s post-international break frustrations continued after they were held to a 2-2 home draw by Blackpool.
The Blues went in front on eight via Edwards but the Tangerines levelled through Joe Nuttall on 22.
Blackpool took the lead from a disputed penalty converted by Jay Spearing eight minutes after the restart but Garbutt, who will be playing for the opposition on Saturday, equalised for Town, also from the spot, on 58.
Former Blues loanee Garbutt joined Blackpool on a free transfer last month having left Everton earlier in the summer.
The left-back or wide midfielder, who made his Seasiders debut as a sub against Lincoln last week and then started the EFL Trophy tie with Stanley, spent last season with Town making 29 starts and one sub appearance, scoring six goals.
The Blues did look into signing the former England U21 international on a permanent basis but were unable to pursue their interest for financial reasons.
Ex-Town midfielder Grant Ward joined the Tangerines in December last year having been released by the Blues in the previous summer.
Ward, who made 75 starts and 23 sub appearances for Town after signing from Spurs in August 2016, spent the first half of last season at Town recovering from the ruptured ACL he suffered at QPR on Boxing Day 2018. The Londoner has started all seven of the Seasiders' games so far this season.
The Blackpool squad also includes former Town loan winger Liam Feeney, who made seven starts and two sub appearances, scoring twice, in a spell at Portman Road in the second half of the 2015/16 season, however the 34-year-old is currently out on loan at Tranmere.
Saturday’s referee is Christopher Sarginson from Staffordshire, who has shown 11 yellow cards and no red in five games so far this season.
Coincidentally, Sarginson was in charge of February’s 2-1 defeat at Bloomfield Road, in which he cautioned Flynn Downes and three home players. Town felt they were denied a very strong claim for a penalty when Sears was fouled in the first half.
He also refereed the 2-1 home defeat to Coventry in December last year’s FA Cup replay at Portman Road in which he kept his cards in his pocket throughout.
Prior to that he was in charge of the 1-0 win at Gillingham in September 2019 in which he booked Wilson and Judge as well as one home player.
His only Blues fixture before to that was the 2-0 home victory over Brighton in September 2014 in which he booked Cole Skuse, Jonny Parr, Paul Anderson and three of the visitors.
Squad from: Holy, Cornell, Chambers (c), Donacien, Ward, Kenlock, Ndaba, Nsiala, Wilson, McGuinness, Woolfenden, Dozzell, Bishop, Huws, Nolan, Judge, Lankester, Edwards, Sears, Hawkins, Jackson.
Photo: Matchday Images
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