By Paddy Feeney
In a month that was regarded as key towards Blackpool’s playoff charge, the Seasiders are still yet to record their first win, and they will look to succeed at the fourth time of asking when fellow Brighton visit Bloomfield Road in another important playoff clash.
A run of one win in five games since going out of the FA Cup at Everton has knocked Blackpool out of the top six, and with three of the next four games against fellow promotion hopefuls, with the fourth against Holloway’s former club Leicester City, if Blackpool want to make an immediate return to football’s top table then they will need to make a swift return to form.
The last five games have been kinder to Gus Poyet’s Seagulls, with two wins and three draws moving them back into the frame for a top six spot despite faltering after their excellent start to their first season back in the second tier of English football.
Wins against Portsmouth and Ipswich, as well as draws against Cardiff and Hull mean that Brighton travel to Blackpool in good form. The goals of Craig Mackail-Smith and Ashley Barnes have fired them into contention for a top six place, and the chance of back to back promotions from lower league obscurity onto English football’s top table.
Several members of the Blackpool side have called on the team to put their recent disappointing results behind them and rediscover the form showed in January to move the Seasiders back into the top six picture.
Keith Southern is hopeful that the players can draw on the experience of previous run ins that have resulted in promotions to haul Blackpool back into the all important playoff places.
‘It’s now or never really, but what better way to start than with a home game against the team that is above us in the league. It will be a very difficult game but we’re optimistic and we need the win.
‘There’s 10 games and 30 points to play for. We’ve done it before – we’ve been on magnificent runs during the last 10 games of the season in my time here – so there’s no reason why we can’t again. If we can win on Saturday and on Wednesday then confidence will go through the roof.’
Gus Poyet is hoping that his side have learnt from the mistakes made in the reverse fixture, where Blackpool came from two goals down to secure a dramatic late draw thanks to Kevin Phillips’ second half brace.
‘It’s going to be tough for us at Bloomfield Road but we have got to take positives from the game earlier in the season. We drew that game when it was in our own hands and we have got remember that they have good players.
‘They have players who can change a game at any time and of course that includes Kevin Phillips. We didn’t do the basics against him in the last game and we conceded a couple of goals. We can’t let that happen again.’
Blackpool Team News:
Ian Holloway once again has to decide on his chosen attacking combination, with a wealth of options at his disposal. Roman Bednar and Nouha Dicko are both pushing for starting places, the latter hoping the second goal of his loan spell in the defeat at Peterborough will earn him more first team football.
Danny Wilson is will be hoping for a return to the back four, while Keith Southern and Neal Eardley are also pushing for recalls.
Player to watch: Barry Ferguson
In games that Blackpool have been successful this season, the club captain has always played a pivotal role. Capable to holding possession when under pressure, picking a pass to unlock a defence, or organising the defence, the former Scotland skipper will be crucial in negating Brighton’s vast array of attacking talent.
Brighton Team News:
The Seagulls have only one confirmed injury ahead of their long trip to the North West, with centre back Tommy Elphick still sidelined with an achilles injury.
Recent absentees Gary Dicker and Marcos Painter both completed 45 minutes for the reserve team against Tottenham during the week, and are both pushing for recalls, with Painter hoping to displace West Brom loanee Joe Mattock at left back.
Player to watch: Kazenga Lua-Lua
Younger brother of Blackpool enigma Lomana, 21 year old Kazenga has proved in his fledgling career that he is just as capable as his brother when it comes to producing a moment of class. Pace out wide and a piledriver free kick, both Blackpool full backs will have to be at their best.
Match Facts & Stats
Blackpool are being called the late goal specialists this season, but Brighton could also lay claim to that title as well. With 13 goals in the last ten minutes of games this season.
Brighton are unbeaten in 8 games in the league, with their only defeat since the turn of the year coming in the shape of their 6-1 thrashing at Anfield in the FA Cup.
Wednesday 21st March, 2010
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