After a glorious few days of Spring sunshine on the Fylde Coast, Southampton visit tomorrow afternoon with a vital 3-points up for grabs for both sides on what should be an entertaining afternoon.
The weather tends to bring out the best in the fans, with those in the home end plumping to display their Tangerine colours with pride rather than have them covered by jackets to keep them warm through the 90 minutes, while travelling fans undoubtedly get caught up in the carnival atmosphere that is Blackpool on a sunny afternoon.
Before the game begins though, there will be a sombre atmosphere as Blackpool remembers the ‘King Of Bloomfield Road’, Alan Suddick, who lost his battle against cancer early on Monday morning.
A minute’s silence will be held, along with the placing of a banana-shaped wreath behind the goal in front of the Kop – to symbolise his ability to bend the ball before it was fashionable to do so – and the ‘Seasiders’ Banner will be placed in the centre circle before kick-off while the tributes are being read.
The struggling Saints are coming to Bloomfield Road off the back of a 0-0 draw with Queens Park Rangers, as opposed to Blackpool’s 1-0 victory against another struggling side, Barnsley, in a game that saw a 30+ year statistic smashed thanks to Wade Small’s emphatic goal on his debut for the club.
This game will undoubtedly be down on many fans’ list as being one that will ideally end in a victory, to ease the pressure on the final few games of the season as it draws to a close and relegation places – and survival – is determined.
Blackpool stand-in gaffer, Tony Parkes;
‘We’re as determined as ever, and we know how it can change in this game. It can change very quickly for one reason or another, and we are well aware of that.’
‘There’s no taking our foot off the pedal and there’s nobody getting above their station, we’ll battle on and try to get these points as quickly as we can.’
Saints boss, Mark Wotte;
‘We have a game in hand over Blackpool so if we beat them and win our game in hand against Watford then we are only one point behind them.’
‘It helps to beat the teams around you, but nothing changes in our approach to this weekend’s game, as we always play to win.’
Blackpool Team News:
Alan Mahon could go straight into the squad having joined on loan this past Monday from rivals Burnley.
Rob Edwards has been passed fit, but Ian Evatt, Ben Burgess and the unfortunate Danny Coid will all miss out through injury.
DJ Campbell could be partnered by either Nick Blackman or Brett Ormerod – a former Saint – but Parkes will likely keep that decision a closely-guarded secret until kick-off.
Another former Saint, Jermaine Wright, will also miss out as he continues his recovery from an Achillies problem that has kept him out for most of the season.
Wade Small should continue on the right of midfield in the place of the injured Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Roy O’Donovan.
Player to watch: Charlie Adam
Having impressed alongside new midfield partner Keith Southern against Norwich, expect the Scot to be fired up for another fight for the points against another team struggling for survival in the division.
Southampton Team News:
Former ‘Pool loanee Simon Gillett could start in the place of the banned Lloyd James, with Zoltan Liptak also in-line to take the defender’s place.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and Matt Paterson are both in contention to force their manager’s hand to make changes in attack for the game, but like Parkes, the decision won’t be taken lightly and will remain a closely-guarded secret until the kick-off.
Player to watch: Bradley Wright-Phillips
If he plays, the front-man’s danger in the air will have to be coped with by the ‘Pool defence – whether that be the returning Rob Edwards, or Shaun Barker and Alex Baptiste – because Saints will look to utilise that strength to their advantage.
Match Facts & Stats
Last time out, ‘Pool were the victors in front of the Sky cameras at St Mary’s as Ben Burgess slotted home a penalty that sealed a 1-0 win down on the South coast.
At Bloomfield Road last season, 2-2 was the final score with Stern John getting the equaliser for the visitors after Blackpool had taken a 2-1 lead in the game.
Blackpool 2-0 Southampton
Saturday 4th April (H) vs Plymouth Argyle (3pm)