Blackpool not daunted by Sunderland challenge insists clean sheet maestro Mark Howard

Mark Howard on his return to action in the 2-0 win against Walsall
Mark Howard on his return to action in the 2-0 win against Walsall
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Far from being daunted by the prospect of playing in front of 32,000 Sunderland fans, Blackpool goalkeeper Mark Howard insists he and his team-mates can’t wait for the occasion.

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The Seasiders travel to the Stadium of Light tonight looking to build on Saturday’s 2-0 win against Walsall and extend their five-game unbeaten streak.

Sunderland currently sit in fourth place in League One, five points off the top two and with two games in hand.

The Black Cats’ average attendance this season is just under 32,000, a far cry from the empty stands at Bloomfield Road.

But Howard, who produced a man-of-the-match display on his return from injury at the weekend, believes that won’t be a problem for the Seasiders.

“It will be a great game and there’s a lot of lads who are looking forward to playing at the Stadium of Light,” he said.

“We know how difficult it is going to be. They were very good when they played us here (where Blackpool lost 1-0) and it’s going to be a big test.

“We need a positive result to come out of it because we’re looking to try and do something.

“It’s weird playing in a big stadium like that. To be fair you hear more at smaller grounds, I heard more when we played Solihull away and it’s a bit more ruthless.

“When you play at the bigger stadiums it’s just one loud noise you hear, so it doesn’t really affect you. At the smaller grounds you can hear what everyone says.

“But this is going to be a massive week for us.

“The win against Walsall was a big start for us to get a bit of momentum to go to the Stadium of Light, which we know is going to be a tricky game.

“But we’ve given ourselves something to build on and we’re always trying to push on as much as we can and see where it takes us.”

Howard saved a penalty on Saturday to help Blackpool keep their 15th clean sheet of the season in League One, their 17th in all competitions.

That’s the joint best record in the third tier along with leaders Luton Town, and it’s something Howard believes is a team effort and not just down to him.

“The lads have defended brilliantly, even the midfield and those at the front,” the 32-year-old added.

“I think as a set of lads that is our aim every game, keep a clean sheet, because we know we’re difficult to beat. We’ve seen this season that we can sustain pressure and we can keep clean sheets.”