Neil Critchley's warning to Blackpool: Fortunes can change so fast

Blackpool’s league position might be looking very healthy but Neil Critchley has warned there’s still plenty of time for that to change.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 8:00 am

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The Seasiders cemented their League One play-off place with Saturday’s pivotal 1-0 home win against promotion rivals Sunderland.

It extended their unbeaten run to 16 games and, more importantly, maintained fifth position and the three-point gap between Blackpool and the seventh-placed club, now Portsmouth who have played a game more.

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Neil Critchley congratulates Ellis Simms after the win over Sunderland but knows a lot can happen over the remaining six games

The Seasiders head to bottom club Rochdale tomorrow in a great position for the final run-in but the head coach says his players musn’t get carried away with six games yet to play.

Critchley told The Gazette: “I still haven’t looked at the table. I’ve seen some of the results, though, so I think we might be in a bit of a healthier position in terms of the play-offs at this moment in time.

“That can quickly change, though, because I think everyone is playing again in midweek. It’s not like a game in hand – it’s a full programme.

“Rochdale have had a fantastic result against Accrington as well. They’re fighting for their lives, so what a tough game that is going to be on Tuesday.”

A second-half goal which was credited to Ellis Simms but appeared to go in off Sunderland’s Bailey Wright from a Luke Garbutt cross proved enough to win a cagey, tense encounter at Bloomfield Road.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, Sunderland perhaps had the upper hand but were unable to breach a watertight Blackpool defence, who kept their 18th clean sheet of the season.

The crucial moment came when Aiden McGeady’s dipping effort rebounded off a post, just a minute before the Seasiders’ decisive goal.

Critchley added: “We felt it would be fine margins and there wouldn’t be a lot between the teams.

“If McGeady scores at that point and it goes 1-0, then maybe we’d have domination of the ball in the last 20 to 25 minutes and they’re having to defend the box and the goal.

“They were obviously desperate to get the three points to have any chance of being in the automatics.

“Goals change games. Maybe if they had scored it would have been us banging on the door.

“They’ve got a fantastic away record –it’s one of the best in the division – and they don’t concede many goals, just like us, so it was always going to be close.

“It was going to be fine margins – one chance and one goal, and fortunately it’s gone for us.”