Northampton Town v Blackpool AS IT HAPPENED: Updates from Sixfields
There's plenty at stake today as play-off chasing Blackpool take on relegation-threatened Northampton Town at Sixfields this afternoon.
Follow our live blog for updates...
LIVE: Northampton Town v Blackpool
Last updated: Saturday, 01 May, 2021, 15:05
- FT: Northampton 0-3 Blackpool
- Seasiders could confirm place in League One play-offs
- Cobblers will be relegated unless they win
And welcome to The Gazette’s live blog, where we’ll bring you all the build-up, team news and action from Blackpool’s crunch encounter against Northampton Town.
Follow the blog for regular updates throughout the day.
The stakes are high for both sides at Sixfields this afternoon.
The home side know only a win will do, otherwise they will be relegated back to League Two at the first attempt. The Cobblers currently sit four points adrift of safety with just two games remaining.
For Blackpool, there’s a slim chance they can guarantee their spot in the play-offs should they win and results elsewhere go their way.
Neil Critchley’s side currently sit three points clear of seventh-placed Oxford United with a game in hand still to play. But Pool would need Oxford, Charlton Athletic and Portsmouth to all drop points.
The Seasiders still have three games to play, with back-to-back home games against Doncaster Rovers and Bristol Rovers following today’s trip to Northampton, which is their final away game of the season.
Both Grant Ward and Sullay Kaikai (above) are doubts for today’s game after picking up knocks during Tuesday night’s win at Sunderland.
Speaking on Thursday, Neil Critchley said it was too early for the pair to be ruled out and would need to be assessed further.
The pair hobbled off at the Stadium of Light, where Pool claimed a vital 1-0 victory thanks to Kaikai’s second-half thunderbolt.
The forward felt his hamstring, while Ward’s knock was initially believed to be to his Achilles - but Critchley revealed it’s actually his calf which was troubling him.
Elsewhere, Daniel Gretarsson, Matty Virtue, Keshi Anderson, CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine all remain sidelined, while Bez Lubala is still unavailable due to a ‘club matter’.
Anderson and Madine are the two closest to making a return, while Elliot Embleton comes back into the fold after being ineligible to face his parent club Sunderland in midweek.
Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments
“I prefer to be involved in a game with lots riding on it because you know what you’re going to get, which makes it easier to know what’s coming your way.
“You know it’s a bit of a do-or-die situation where they have to come and win the game.
“Sometimes when you play against those teams that have nothing to play for, freedom of mind helps players relax and perform in a different way and the manager might play different players who might be playing with one eye on next season and try something different.
“With Northampton, it’s slightly easier to prepare for but we know they’re going to be fully motivated because they have to win the game.
“The game against Sunderland has now gone. It’s three points, three big points, but that’s gone now and we have to be ready for this game.
“If we’re not, you only have to look at Northampton’s home record recently to see what can happen because they’ve beaten some very good teams. That shows you what they’re capable of.”
While Blackpool’s destiny is very much in their own hands with just three games left to play, they’ll still be keeping one eye on results elsewhere.
Sunderland, the side that sit above them in the table, make the long trip to Plymouth Argyle.
Portsmouth, who sit directly below them in sixth, are away at AFC Wimbledon.
Oxford United and Charlton Athletic, who are seventh and eighth respectively, take on Shrewsbury Town and Accrington Stanley.
On their travels
Today’s game is Blackpool’s final away fixture of the regular league campaign, although they’ll be hoping to make another trip in the play-offs in a few weeks.
Neil Critchley’s side have a strong record on their travels, winning 10 games and claiming 34 points from their 22 games - the sixth best record in the third tier.
In fact, there’s not a huge difference between Blackpool’s home and away form, having picked up 37 points from their 21 games at Bloomfield Road.
Pool have enjoyed some fine away wins this season, beating the likes of Peterborough United, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Oxford United and Charlton Athletic.
Enough is enough
The Gazette is joining in with football’s boycott of social media this weekend, which lasts until 11.59pm on Monday night.
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Grant Ward, who was the victim of vile abuse following Blackpool’s game at Sunderland in midweek.
We will continue to write our matchday content as usual, but our stories just won’t appear on Twitter or Facebook.
To find out more about why we’re boycotting, click here.
Players out checking the pitch
Keshi Anderson has travelled with the squad, while Sullay Kaikai is also here despite picking up a knock at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.
There’s no Grant Ward though.
Blackpool make one change to their side from Tuesday night’s 1-0 win at Sunderland, as Ellis Simms comes in for Grant Ward, who misses out through injury.
TEAM: Maxwell, Turton, Ballard, Thorniley, Husband, Garbutt, Dougall, Robson, Kaikai, Simms, Yates
Neil Critchley opts to make just one change to the side that claimed a priceless 1-0 win at Sunderland in midweek.
Grant Ward is the man to miss out after picking up a calf injury at the Stadium of Light, with Ellis Simms taking his spot in the side.
Sullay Kaikai, who was a doubt after suffering a knock to his hamstring against the Black Cats, is fit enough to play.
The Seasiders keep faith with three at the back, with Kaikai playing slightly further ahead of Kenny Dougall and Ethan Robson in the centre of midfield.
Keshi Anderson returns from a four-month lay-off to be named among the substitutes, having been kept out of action after undergoing surgery on his hamstring in January.
Elliot Embleton is also named on the bench, having been ineligible to face his parent club Sunderland in midweek, but Kevin Stewart is left out despite returning from an ankle injury on Tuesday.
Bez Lubala is still unavailable due to a ‘club matter’, while Daniel Gretarsson, Matty Virtue, CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine all remain sidelined.
Northampton, who name an unchanged side, know they have to win unless they will be relegated back to League Two at the first attempt.