Blackpool's 2020/21 campaign review part one: Pool's difficult start to the season
Matt Scrafton’s three-part review of the Blackpool 2020/21 season, which built to Sunday’s promotion decider at Wembley, begins with a look back at the first two months of the campaign...
The Seasiders came into the season in September full of optimism after a pre-season of high turnover, with 17 players arriving and a further 21 departing, and inspired friendly displays against both Liverpool and Everton.
Despite the pandemic, which crippled clubs financially, the Seasiders would continue to invest under Simon Sadler, with the club paying fees for the likes of Bez Lubala, CJ Hamilton, Jerry Yates and Daniel Gretarsson, albeit the defender would arrive a month later.
After being harshly knocked out of the League Cup on penalties by Stoke City in their curtain-raiser, Neil Critchley’s men got off to a mixed start in the league, losing away to newly promoted Plymouth Argyle before bouncing back with a 2-0 victory against Swindon Town.
This game played in front of 1,000 Seasiders at Bloomfield Road as part of a test event for the safe return of spectators to grounds.
But the month ended on a sour note, as Pool lost 2-0 at Gillingham.
They were also held to a goalless draw in their opening EFL Trophy group game against Barrow, managed by former Pool coach David Dunn, although the Seasiders would take a bonus point after winning the penalty shootout.
While Blackpool’s performances remained promising, things continued to conspire against them in October as they tumbled down the table.
A James Husband red card saw the Seasiders lose late on against play-off foes Lincoln City, while Critchley’s men would go on to suffer a 4-1 humbling at the hands of Ipswich Town a few weeks later.
A 1-1 draw against Crewe, a game Pool really ought to have won, was followed by a 1-0 home defeat to Charlton, in which Husband picked up his second straight red of the season, this one coming after just 60 seconds.
Thankfully, it would be another six months until the Seasiders suffered another defeat on home turf.
The month ended on another sour note, with Pool losing 1-0 to AFC Wimbledon at Loftus Road, ending the game with nine men after red cards were shown to Dan Ballard and Ethan Robson.
It left Critchley’s Seasiders hovering just about the relegation zone, having lost six of their opening nine league games.
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