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It’s back on the road tomorrow but unlike previous away games in 2023, this one isn’t quite so far away with just a short trip involved to the Lancashire coast at Blackpool.

It’s hard to believe it’s just a few weeks short of nine years since we last played a competitive game  there, on Good Friday as we edged ever closer to our second promotion to the Premier League.

Tomorrow we return as we look for more points to help secure a fourth Premier League promotion as we take on a team who have had a real struggle this season although they did pick up a point at the Turf, coming from 2-0 and 3-1 behind to draw 3-3.

Having won promotion from League One in 2020/21, coming from behind to beat Lincoln in the play-off final, they had a decent first season back in the Championship, winning sixty points. Things were looking healthy for a good 2022/23 season, that was until manager Neil Critchley upped sticks after just over two years in the job.

It’s reasonable to suggest that things haven’t gone well for either party since. Critchley went to Aston Villa to work with Steven Gerrard, replacing Michael Beale. He was sacked along with Gerrard in October. He landed himself a return to management, replacing Michael Beale at QPR. He was sacked just short of two weeks ago having endured a torrid time there.

Meanwhile, Blackpool, very surprisingly, replaced Critchley with Michael Appleton. That went down well with fans; Appleton had been in the job before but had walked having been lured to Ewood by Shebby Singh. He lasted somewhat longer this time but was sacked in January with Blackpool firmly in a relegation fight and he’s been replaced by Mick McCarthy.

McCarthy had last managed Cardiff and he hasn’t made the best of starts at Blackpool. He’s been in charge for the last seven league games in which they have picked up five points, all of them at home where they have been unbeaten under the new manager. They’ve drawn 2-2 against Huddersfield, 0-0 against Rotherham and last time out at Bloomfield Road they beat Stoke 1-0 with an Ian Poveda goal.

They are currently in bottom place in the table, below Huddersfield on goal difference and one point behind Wigan. Fourth from bottom, his old club Cardiff, are five points ahead of them. They have won seven games this season, beating all of Reading, Watford, Preston and Stoke at home and taking all three points in away games at QPR, Huddersfield and Coventry. The wins against Preston and Coventry came in October, on the days we won at Sunderland and at home to Reading. The Stoke home game is their only win since.

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Jerry Yates (pictured above), who scored their third goal at Burnley, is their leading goalscorer with nine goals with Gary Madine is next with four goals. Twelve players have scored league goals for them this season  but two of them are ruled out of tomorrow’s game. Marvin Ekpiteta came off injured in their defeat at Watford in mid-January and hasn’t played since. Shayne Lavery, scorer of their second at Burnley, has a hamstring injury, sustained last Saturday at Reading, and he is unavailable.Blackpool’s team for that game at Reading, which they lost 3-1, was: Chris Maxwell, Andy Lyons, Curtis Nelson, Jordan Thorniley, James Husband, Josh Bowler, Callum Connolly, Sonny Carey, Luke Garbutt, Shayne Lavery, Gary Madine. Subs: Daniel Grimshaw, Jordan Gabriel, Kenny Dougall, Chris Hamilton, Morgan Rogers, Ian Povedo, Charlie Patino.

The league table is looking good just now. It doesn’t seem that long since I was looking at seventh, a place we needed to avoid to ensure at least a play-off place at the end of the season. Norwich are currently occupying that seventh place with 52 points, some 24 points behind us.

Next I was looking at third. That’s Middlesbrough now and they trail us by 19 points with us both having just twelve games remaining. If they did something remarkable and won the lot of them, it would leave them with 93 points. With that scenario, we’d need a further 18 points to ensure promotion.

So, basically, we are looking to ensure we remain ahead of Sheffield United to win the league. Our lead on them is now twelve points although they do have a game in hand. And should anyone still be nervous about our chances, it can now be confirmed that none of the bottom seven can catch us should we declare.

Moving onto tomorrow and Blackpool. The only negative right now is the injury list. Vincent Kompany hasn’t spoken since immediately after the cup win against Fleetwood so there is no indication on the injuries. We know Taylor Harwood-Bellis remains out and that it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see either Manuel Benson or Jay Rodriguez. There is no sign of Ian Maatsen on the training pics either but Anass Zaroury was there so hopefully he’ll be fit having been forced to withdraw during the second half of the cup win.

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Ashley Barnes sat out the Fleetwood game but I’d be surprised if he’s not in the team tomorrow. Speaking earlier today, he said: “We’ve got another tough test tomorrow but I’m buzzing for it. Every game is tough in this league and tomorrow will be the same. You never know what the outcome is but we’ve just got to make sure we concentrate on ourselves and we concentrate on our own game, our own way of how we play and then teams can’t live with us.”

He added: “I enjoy every game as soon as I put on the shirt, as soon as I get on the field, but derby games just have that extra feel about them. We have another strong following with us there tomorrow and they’ve been amazing, from last year to getting relegated, I don’t think they could ask for much more than to bounce back with the season that we’re having so far. But there’s a long way to go, so hopefully we can give them something to cheer about tomorrow and this season at the end.”

Kompany made seven changes for the cup tie and I suspect he’ll revert to a line up much closer to the one that beat Huddersfield 4-0 last Saturday. Our team a week ago was: Arijanet Muric, Connor Roberts, Hjalmar Ekdal, Jordan Beyer, Ian Maatsen, Josh Cullen, Josh Brownhill, Nathan Tella, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, Anass Zaroury, Ashley Barnes. Subs: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Charlie Taylor, Vitinho, Jack Cork, Scott Twine, Michael Obafemi, Lyle Foster.




Burnley arrived at Blackpool on Good Friday 2014 in second place in the Championship table in what was Sean Dyche’s first full season in charge. With just four games to play, we were seven points behind leaders Leicester but significantly held an eight point lead over Derby County in third place.

We were within touching distance of reaching the Premier League for a second time and, while no classic, by the final whistle we had more than a foot in the top division. A 1-0 win with a Michael Kightly goal early in the second half was enough and had Derby failed to win in the tea time kick off at Doncaster then it would have all been over.

The one goal came in the fourth minute of the second half. David Jones picked up a Blackpool clearance and played it to Kieran Trippier who moved it on to Kightly on the right touchline. Kightly played the ball inside to Dean Marney and then moved inside to take a return pass before firing a shot into the corner from just outside the box giving future Claret Matt Gilks no chance.

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The only threat came from the Blackpool fans who throughout chanted ‘Oyston Out’ with banners bearing the same two words. They threw tennis balls onto the pitch. Our then vice-chairman John B watched on and then joked: “I’m safe. They can’t spell Banaszkiewicz.”

There was just one moment of concern right at the end when Trippier superbly headed a goal bound header away although Tom Heaton claimed afterwards that he would have saved it.

It had been a brilliant day out, a record breaking eleventh away win for us and we were ready for Wigan in the next game.

The teams were;

Blackpool: Matt Gilks, Tony McMahon, Harrison McGahey, Craig Cathcart, Jack Robinson (Andy Halliday 44), Chris Basham, Isaiah Osbourne (Stephen Dobbie 70), Barry Ferguson, David Perkins, Neal Bishop, David Goodwillie (Louis Almond 56). Subs not used: Faris Haroun, Andy Keogh, Tom Barkhuizen, Elliot Grandin.

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Kieran Trippier, Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Ben Mee, Michael Kightly (Junior Stanislas 68), Dean Marney (Chris Baird 81), David Jones, Scott Arfield, Danny Ings (David Edgar 90+4), Ashley Barnes. Subs not used: Alex Cisak, Kevin Long, Ross Wallace, Keith Treacy.

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