Neil Critchley: Blackpool keen to improve on display against Rochdale
Neil Critchley knows his Blackpool side will have to play better than they did in their scrappy victory against Rochdale in order to carry on winning games.
The Seasiders ground out a hard-earned 1-0 win at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday night against Brian Barry-Murphy’s relegation-threatened outfit.
Sullay Kaikai’s early goal settled the match but Blackpool had to hold on in the second half to record an eighth win from nine home games in all competitions.
Head coach Critchley is delighted his side are unbeaten at home since October but told The Gazette: “I want us to play better than that. I think we can play better. The players know that and they’ve said that after the game themselves.
“We weren’t at our best but when you play 46 games you’re never going to be at your best all the time.
“I don’t think the 10-day break between games (due to back-to-back postponements) has helped us.
“We looked a bit flat at times, so we had to really grind it out at times in the second half.
“Rochdale score freely, in threes and fours, but I don’t think Maxi (goalkeeper Chris Maxwell) had a great deal to do, which is pleasing.
“But I would have liked us to play better football over the 90 minutes. We did that in the first half but we didn’t sustain it. If we can do that, we’ve proved we can beat the best teams in the division.”
Pool will be tested this weekend by a long trip to the south coast to face Portsmouth.
Kenny Jackett’s side, who suffered a surprise 3-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday, remain in the hunt for automatic promotion, sitting just five points behind leaders Lincoln City.
For Blackpool, Saturday’s game is another chance to cut the gap to the top six, still with games in hand on the majority of sides.
With Critchley’s side playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday for the foreseeable future, chances are every member of Pool’s squad will be required at some point.
The Pool boss added: “That’s been stressed to the players numerous times this season. We’ve had numerous meetings about it.
“We’ve got a challenging period coming up and we’re going to need everyone to play their part, so we need everyone to be ready.
“If you want to be a successful squad, you’re going to need everybody and I’m sure that will be the case in the coming months.”
The Seasiders are sweating over the fitness of Marvin Ekpiteta, who hobbled off the pitch on Tuesday night holding his hamstring.
But Dan Ballard, a surprise absentee from Tuesday’s Rochdale, is said to be fine and should return for the trip to Fratton Park.