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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.
“They brought in 15 players from last season to this season, so their whole team has changed and they’ve a new manager [Neil Critchley],” said Lambert, who will be hoping not to become a victim of the Manager of the Month curse, having picked up September's gong earlier today.

“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.”
Reflecting on last week’s match, Lambert says the performance was one which will have boosted his team’s self-belief due to the way they held out for the point against the Dons, particularly after being reduced in number.
“It was for different reasons, without being great going forward because we couldn't get out because of the 10 men,” he said.

“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.
“If you go to when we were meant to play them, it could work out that we played Sunderland on a Tuesday and Blackpool on a Saturday, we're away to Crawley in between as well, and then I think it's FA Cup week and you could get another long, long journey in that.

“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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Europablue added 15:32 - Oct 9
"The Blues dropped to third in League One following last week’s 1-1 draw away against the MK Dons". The table I see says otherwise, but anyway, the table is not important right now.

Nobbysnuts added 16:07 - Oct 9
Please don't play kenlock...🙏🙏🙏🙏

dirtydingusmagee added 16:31 - Oct 9
Just hope we dont keep seeing that heading every week like last season once the wheels came off. NEED to get the job done this season , COYB

shakytown added 18:54 - Oct 9
Have you discovered a plan b yet if plan a does not work. Good managers can so it's time to step up Mr Lambert.

oldegold added 21:21 - Oct 9
Leave Kenlock alone...he's home grown and potentially the best full back we have had in years

DifferentGravy added 23:48 - Oct 9
sorry oldegold, its nothing against Kenlock as a human being but simply not good enough for professional football in my opinion......home grown or not.

Ideally a tad more grit in midfield,.....but ultimately need to look after the ball better(especially from the back) and attacking players be more productive. If Teddy is playing he needs the ball to feet and to drive at the opposition. if Gwion is playing he actually needs to contribute rather than waiting until down to ten men . Not sure what to do with Freddy, tidy player but not a midfielder, not a winger and not and out n out forward.

Saxonblue74 added 07:30 - Oct 10
"Not good enough going forward due to 10 men"? We didn't play with 10 men for 90 minutes! I thought our performance was ok but let's look for reason, not excuses when our performance is below par.

daisy1234 added 09:32 - Oct 10
I’m really sorry but got too agree Kenlock has been really poor if he plays hope he proves me wrong but for me he is a weak left back

ArnieM added 09:43 - Oct 10
Agreed Kenlockt isn’t the answer, but who then should be playing left back until Ward comes back. And looking forwards, who is Ward’s understudy ?

Nobbysnuts added 09:47 - Oct 10
ArnieM -Move Wilson over and play mcguinness. 👍

OwainG1992 added 10:29 - Oct 10
Big this one.
Another one where Blackpool have started poor but they've built a team that could certainly be top 6.
I agree with most Kenlock isn't anywhere near the defender Ward is but hopefully he can offer more going forward and the midfield can cover where he lacks.
Huge game COYB!!

heathen66 added 10:29 - Oct 10
Unlike many on here, I feel sorry for Myles Kenlock.
Absolutely ruined by MM whos confidence is shot
Myles had many impressive games but was instantly dropped for the underperforming show pony (and senior pro) that was Jonas Knudsen.
Myles now plays with no confidence whatsoever and that is reflected in his performances. Unfortunately needs to move clubs and not still be seen as the lad that came through the ranks and is the easy option to drop !!!

Looking at todays game with no RB or LB why not go 3-5-2 and play McGuiness.
This will also allow Jackson to play up top too as a 2 man force and not leave the one isolated striker which has been evident in all games this season.
The width can then be provided by Edwards, Lancaster, Sears and Dobra.
Gives us more attacking options especially in this league

ringwoodblue added 10:36 - Oct 10
Agree that McGuinness or Woolfie must be incorporated into the defence in preference to Kenlock. Also worried about how Chambers will deal with Garbutt.

I think this could be a tough test with the injuries we currently have. Would love a win (to capitalise on Hiulls defeat last night) but might have to be happy with a draw.

Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 10:56 - Oct 10
Imagine the outcry if we had had Hull's result last night. It just shows that no one team is likely to walk away with the league this season, and that consistency will be the key. Blackpool is going to be difficult. I'd take a draw, but hope for a win, obviously.

Linkboy13 added 11:00 - Oct 10
The squad is unbalanced seems to be overloaded with central defenders. Looks like one of them will move to left back possibly Wolfenden this is where Edwards is such a versatile player and Lambert likes him he can track back and help out on the left side. Anyone who's played the game can see Kenlock is not strong enough to play at this level and is easily beaten when one to one although he's ok going forward.

runningout added 11:42 - Oct 10
Wish Kenlock would sort his game out, for him and his football career

Marinersnose added 11:55 - Oct 10
Left back is a massive problem as highlighted last weekend when Ward was forced to leave the field. Whilst I would love to see Kenlock succeed I genuinely don’t think he has the confidence or ability to do so even at this level. PL should consider a back three imo. My main concern is our goal threat. Hawkins was excellent last week but was not getting enough support from midfield. Nolan has started the season well and you could argue that both he and Bish have played their part in scoring goals from midfield. Edwards for me should never be a starter as he hides too much during the game so much so you hardly notice he’s playing. From the bench Edwards causes problems and changes games so for me he remains an impact player. PL is managing Lankaster well but I believe his time to start maybe now even if he plays for an hour he is a massive threat. Failing that then Dobra who is inexperienced but will give us a more potent attacking threat. Blackpool will be tough opponents and Grant Ward may just cause us problems as for me he is a decent player who didn’t fit in at Town. Garbutt will be a force with free kicks but Lankaster or Dobra could expose his defensive frailties. COYB

Nobbysnuts added 12:16 - Oct 10
Oldegold- have you been drinking?🍺🍺🤪🤪

oldegold added 13:02 - Oct 10
Nobbysnuts...Yes indeed a good Argentinian Cabernet-Sauvignon last night and some excellent Italian Nebbiolo this last week but more to the point Kenlock had initially played some good games but McCarthy preferred Knudsen, who was awful but a McCarthyite and had some bad luck. I think we have a duty to support all our players and especially our own home grown and I really think given a chance AND BACKING from our supporters, he could stake a claim and make the position his own..

Nobbysnuts added 13:53 - Oct 10
Get your point oldegold. If I had drunk all that I would think kenlock was a good player as well.

Linkboy13 added 14:13 - Oct 10
I fear Grant Ward in this game he's a player can show class on his day but was very inconsistent and lazy for us and needs motivation ,he wont get more than this. Kenlock is not comfortable in defensive situations but is ok going forward i would play Wolfenden who's a better defender and good in the air.

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