Neil Critchley explains why he didn't take any risks with booked trio during Blackpool's win against Doncaster Rovers

Neil Critchley decided to take a safety-first approach with Jordan Gabriel, James Husband and Kevin Stewart after they picked up bookings last night.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 10:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 10:52 am

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The trio were all brought off during Blackpool’s 2-0 win against Doncaster Rovers, a victory that guaranteed their spot in the League One play-offs with a game to spare.

With a wet pitch and a fussy referee, Critchley admitted he didn’t want to risk a red card which would have suspended them for the play-offs.

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Gabriel was the first to be brought off at half-time, replaced by Kevin Stewart But Stewart barely lasted 20 minutes, coming off himself in the 63rd minute alongside Husband, who had both picked up yellow cards in the second-half.

“Jordan is fine, but with the way the conditions were with the pitch, he’s been booked and it only takes a slip or one moment,” Critchley said.

“That was the same with Kevin Stewart and James Husband as well, because they had been booked and I didn’t want to take any risks.

“I made a decision what I thought was the right thing to do for the team.

Jordan Gabriel was brought off at half-time after picking up a booking

“They’re big calls, but I’m used to making these decisions, it’s not something I haven’t done before. The team will always come first.

“With Sullay Kaikai just before kick-off on Saturday, I’ve been in that situation before and I took the decision out of his hands because I thought it was the right thing to do.

“On this occasion, bringing Hubby and Kev off were big calls, especially with Kev because I only brought him on at half-time.

“But I just didn’t want to give the referee any opportunity to turn those yellows into reds.

“We’ve got some games coming up and we don’t want them to be suspended for those games.”

Stewart’s withdrawal was especially frustrating given the midfielder had only been brought on at half-time.

The 27-year-old is in need of game time having only just returned from an ankle injury.

“With Kev, I thought it was a great tackle,” Critchley added.

“He seemed to come from behind and get the ball and then connect with the player. I thought the referee could have just spoken to him and allowed him to carry on.

“He booked him and then only a minute or two later the ball has gone over Kev’s head and you can see he’s clearly looking at the ball, but because he’s put his foot up and the lad’s there it looks like he’s kicked him, but he hasn’t.

“The referee has a conversation with him, brings Hubby over as well, so I’m thinking it only takes one more tackle or for one of them to get something slightly wrong and the referee will send them off.

“I didn’t want to take that chance. Kev had only just come on but he understands, he’s a top pro and he’ll be ready for Sunday.”

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