It is ‘Blackpool’ time. The season’s clock has made its way around to April, which can only mean one thing: the Seasiders start playing. Playing properly. Memories of promotions in 2007 and 2010 glisten with barnstorming runs of form once Easter hits, which saw Pool enter the playoffs as the red-hot favourites.
While a run of results are never a given and shouldn’t be expected, Ian Holloway’s side entered this period with a comfortable win at home to Southampton last weekend and are nestled in the top six nicely, ready for the remaining six games.
But they come up against the Championship’s in-form team at Vicarage Road on Good Friday. Sean Dyche’s Watford, whom many had tipped to go down, haven’t lost in seven (winning five) and have given themselves an outside chance of making the end of season lottery.
That draws poignant parallels to Blackpool in previous campaigns, and so the visitors must learn – as they have struggled to do in the last nine months – to dominate proceedings as the revered former Premier League outfit.
New loan signing Stephen Dobbie scored twice against the Saints last weekend, and Ian Evatt believes having the attacker back for his second spell is a huge boost.
‘I knew Stephen would score last week. He had been on fire in training leading up to the Southampton game,’ he said.
‘He has looked really sharp and it is a pleasure to have him back because he is a good player.
‘He looks like he’s never been away and he loves it here. I am glad he is back because I think he is going to give us that big push we need.’
Hornets boss Dyche is treating the run-in with a relaxed attitude, but insists the top six is eminently achievable: ‘If you look at the other clubs they are under pressure. There’s a lot of expectancy on them,’ Dyche told BBC Three Counties Radio.
‘We’ve got a nice situation where we can enjoy the run-in while making sure we give a good account of ourselves.
‘The season has got a long way to go. Six games is not a massive amount of games but it’s massive in terms of what they could bring.
‘We’re in that ‘What if?’ scenario. It would be beyond expectation to even be sniffing around the play-offs.
‘The lads have deserved that and I’m looking for them to go again. There’ll be no taking the foot off the pedal.’
Watford Team News:
Adrian Mariappa will miss his fourth game at the heart of the defence, but Chris Iwelumo will definitely start after a brace at Leeds.
Player to watch: Chris Iwelumo
While Ian Evatt had a storming game last weekend marshalling Billy Sharp, he must get back to his bread and butter against Iwelumo.
The central defender has come unstuck against big target men so far this season.
Blackpool Team News:
Ian Holloway says that four players who went out boozing on Sunday will not be considered for the trip.
While those players have not been named, all played in the Lancashire Cup game in midweek, and so will be easily identified after the game.
Meanwhile, Kevin Phillips is to have a late fitness test and it will be interesting to see if Messrs Crainey and Ferguson will be in the squad.
Player to watch: Stephen Dobbie
Although the match-winner last time out, Dobbie still has a point to prove given the lack of opportunities he’s had at Swansea in 2012.
Match Facts & Stats
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Monday April 9, 2012