Neil Critchley: Scene set for a thrilling Blackpool v Preston derby

Neil Critchley believes Blackpool’s comeback win against Reading is the perfect tonic for tomorrow’s derby with Preston North End.

By Matt Scrafton
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 8:00 am

READ MORE: Simon Grayson on 'massive' Blackpool v Preston derbies past and present.

The Seasiders bounced back from their defeat at Nottingham Forest by beating Reading 3-2 on Wednesday night, having trailed by two goals at half-time.

The Lilywhites, meanwhile, claimed the scalp of Coventry City at Deepdale.

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Blackpool's fabulous fightback at Reading began with Owen Dale's debut goal

It means both sides have momentum heading into what promises to be a memorable first meeting between the West Lancashire rivals in eight years.

“It sets it up for a really good game,” Critchley said.

“We know the importance of a derby game and us coming back from 2-0 down and winning 3-2, and them beating a very good team in Coventry sets it up for a really intriguing game.

“I can’t wait for Saturday at 3pm, it should be an incredible atmosphere.”

Critchley had nothing but admiration for the hardy Pool fans who made the 480-mile round trip to Berkshire in midweek.

They stuck with their team throughout, even when they trailed at the interval courtesy of two costly errors.

There were jubilant scenes of celebration at the full-time whistle after debutant Owen Dale sparked a miraculous comeback.

The deadline day signing scored within five minutes of coming off the bench before crossing for Jerry Yates to head home the equaliser.

Yates would end up doubling his tally by firing home the winner in the 84th minute, the in-form striker scoring for the fourth time in his last three games.

“They’ve travelled so many hours on a wretched night and God knows what time they’ll get back home,” Critchley said of the Blackpool fans.

“They’ve come in great numbers again and they’re special because they get behind the team when we’re losing 2-0. They know there’s a group of players on the pitch that will go until the end and give everything.

“It’s brilliant to celebrate with them at the end of the game.

“There’s a special bond there at the moment and it means an awful lot to me and the players when we see the support we’ve got.

“I’m just delighted we’ve sent them home happy and we can look forward to Saturday now.”

Pool’s victory against Reading was even more impressive given the Royals had five wins to their name from their last six outings going into Wednesday’s match.

“I firmly believe that we belong in the Championship and I think the players are beginning to believe it as well, which is more important,” Critchley said.

“I said to the players after the game, this is a really good group of players.

“To come to a team that has won five out of six and be 2-0 down away from home and win 3-2, deservedly too, it probably wasn’t the right scoreline really, it could have been one or two more, so the players’ belief is growing.

“If you look at the age of some of our players and how inexperienced they are, they’ll get better with experience so I’m excited with where this group can go.”