“You come to Blackpool for excitement, for entertainment so you want the team to reflect the area and people of the town. That’s what we’re trying to do here.” Neil Critchley is busy discussing the rebirth of Blackpool Football Club and, while owner Simon Sadler is working his magic off the pitch despite the crippling effects of the pandemic, the manager he appointed to help usher in a bright new era is doing similar on it. Unbeaten in 15 matches, Blackpool will move to within three points of third placed Sunderland, with a game in hand, if they beat the Wearsiders at Bloomfield Road on Saturday and boost their hopes of promotion from League One. Not bad for a team that were hovering above the relegation zone in late October, even if a slow start to the campaign seemed inevitable after a turnover of 34 players in the summer. “It’d be massive to get this club back into the Championship,” Critchley says. “The biggest thing is giving the people of this town their club back.” One of Critchley’s predecessors as Blackpool manager, Terry McPhillips, once suggested there was no better metaphor for the reviled 31-year reign of the Oyston family than a seagull that was left decomposing for six months on botched paving by the foot of the statue of club legend Jimmy Armfield outside the ground.
Chris Maxwell's late penalty save kept Blackpool's unbeaten run intact, in a tight 0-0 draw with Accrington at Bloomfield Road. The Blackpool skipper saved Colby Bishop's 88th minute penalty, in a match where Blackpool did everything but put the ball over the line. Sullay Kaikai had a good opportunity to make it 1-0 on ten minutes.
Minutes later, Luke Garbutt won a penalty on the edge of the area, which Sullay Kaikai whipped towards goal, but again the goalkeeper was equal to it, blocking it out for a corner. And from that corner, Ollie Turton’s powerful header at goal looked to be heading in the back of the net, but just went wide of the near post. Blackpool were impressing and deservedly took the lead with just over five minutes of the first half to go.
|Promotion (League Winners): Hull City|
|Promotion (League Position): Peterborough United|
|Promotion (Play Off): Sunderland, Lincoln City, Blackpool, Oxford United|
|Relegation (League Position): Northampton Town, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town|