Blackpool boss has high praise for the club's top scorer
Neil Critchley is thrilled with the way Blackpool’s top scorer Jerry Yates has made the step up to League One.
The striker scored his 14th goal of the campaign in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against MK Dons, matching the tally during his loan spell with Swindon Town in the fourth tier last season.
With 16 games remaining, the 24-year-old – a summer signing from Rotherham United – will be keen to reach 20 goals.
“I’ve been delighted with Jerry,” Critchley told The Gazette.
“Like a lot of players, he took a bit of time to adapt to a new team and to the level, because there is a step up from League Two to League One in terms of the quality of players you’re playing against.
“With Jerry’s mentality, his drive and his willingness to do well, he’s definitely improved and he’s now full of confidence.
“When he went through on goal the other night, the biggest compliment I can give him is that I expected him to score.
“That’s a nice feeling to have when you expect your striker to hit the back of the net and he took the chance really well. He showed real composure, he didn’t rush it.
“He’s getting goals for us and it’s always important for strikers to get goals, so I’m delighted with how he’s been doing.”
Yates was Blackpool’s matchwinner at Stadium:MK in midweek, helping Critchley’s side cut the gap to the play-offs to just four points with three games in hand.
Pool go into today’s encounter with neighbours Fleetwood Town unbeaten in their last six outings, having lost just once in their last 10 games.
“Our consistency has pleased me most. Barring odd little spells during games, our approach, our mentality, togetherness and spirit has been very good,” Critchley said.
“There have been little areas of our game which we’ve highlighted and worked upon and those are starting to bear fruit a little bit on the pitch.
“In every game, we want to try and impose our identity on the opposition and for vast periods of games, we’ve done that.
“It doesn’t always go your way but we concentrate on following our process, and if we can do that, the performances will take care of themselves.
“For the majority of the season we’ve shown consistency in our performances.
“It’s going to be tough physically to continue that, but I’ve also got a belief in the squad that we can do that.
“When you see those changes work on the pitch, that’s the best feeling you can have as a coach.
“When the players listen and take everything on board and try and do it to the best of their ability, that’s all you can ask for as a coach.
“When they get the reward off the back of it and the success, then that’s where the belief between the group and the staff grows together.
“When there are lots of new people, like there were in the summer with staff and players, it takes time for that common message to be implemented and fully believed.
“We’re becoming stronger all the time as a group now.”
The Seasiders have no fresh injury concerns ahead of today’s game as they bid to complete a league double over their Fylde coast rivals.
Blackpool were 1-0 winners at Highbury earlier in the season thanks to Gary Madine’s header.
Madine is currently out with a groin injury, although he has returned to training.
He could be back soon alongside Daniel Gretarsson, who has been sidelined since January with a hamstring injury.
Marvin Ekpiteta and Keshi Anderson remain longer-term concerns.
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