Oxford United v Blackpool AS IT HAPPENED: Updates from the Kassam Stadium

The Seasiders take on Oxford United today looking to extend their eight-game unbeaten run and claim a fourth consecutive away win.

Saturday, 20th March 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th March 2021, 5:06 pm
The Kassam Stadium is the venue for today's game

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LIVE: Oxford United v Blackpool

Last updated: Saturday, 20 March, 2021, 15:14

  • FT: Oxford United 0-2 Blackpool
  • Seasiders, unbeaten in eight, bidding to claim fourth consecutive away win
  • Play-off rivals Oxford sit in 8th, three points ahead in the table

And welcome to today’s live blog, where we’ll bring you all the build-up, team news and action from Blackpool’s League One encounter against Oxford United.

Follow the blog for regular updates throughout the day.

The Seasiders, who are unbeaten in their last eight games, make the journey to the Kassam Stadium today looking to claim a fourth consecutive away win.

Neil Critchley’s side come into today’s game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Burton Albion on Tuesday night, their fourth straight draw at home.

The result leaves Blackpool in 12th place in the league table, five points adrift of sixth-placed Charlton Athletic with four games in hand to play.

Today’s opponents Oxford sit three points ahead of the Seasiders in eighth, having played two games more, making this afternoon’s encounter a vital one.

The Seasiders will be without CJ Hamilton (above) and Kevin Stewart for this afternoon’s game.

A recent scan showed Stewart is likely to be sidelined for a “number of weeks” after injuring his ankle during the recent draw against Fleetwood Town.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is still struggling with a foot injury he suffered having only just returned from a lengthy lay-off with a serious hamstring injury.

Elsewhere, Gary Madine has endured another setback in his bid to return from a niggling groin injury. The striker, who has missed Blackpool’s last 10 games, has had to step back from training and rest.

Marvin Ekpiteta and Daniel Gretarsson are both still sidelined, although they are making good progress. Keshi Anderon is a longer-term concern.

Neil Critchley’s pre-match comments

“The more games you play means you’ve got fewer games left, so there’s more of an added importance to each game.

“Because they’re in and around you, you don’t really want them to get away from you. You want to catch them up or at least make sure they don’t get away from you.

“It’s the next game, however I’d be lying if I said there’s not a bit more on the game.

“If you look at Oxford, and then the Peterborough United game on Tuesday, we’ve got games coming up where we don’t want to be losing ground on the teams around us.

“They had a really good result against Doncaster in midweek and they’re a team with a good squad of players.

“The home game this season, we played well on that day and probably deserved to win the game.

“But I remember saying before that game that I thought they would pick up and we were looking at a top 10 team.

“They’ve got aspirations of getting in the play-offs like they did last year and they’ve got a good group of players and an experienced manager who knows the level.

“After beating Doncaster 3-0 at home on Tuesday night, they’ll be full of confidence expecting to back that up.

“We know how tough it’s going to be, but we can draw confidence from our last few away performances when we’ve played brilliantly well against good opposition and won the games.”

Karl Robinson’s pre-match comments

“The game at Blackpool earlier in the season was a big one for us. We were in a difficult place back then, finding our feet with the new team and with Covid and without fans, we were finding it hard to get our rhythm.

“Our team has evolved, through luck at times and moments that are out of our control. We have changed and found a formula that suits the personnel.

“The team has found its own identity and personality and they are playing with a freedom at the moment. We keep people on the edge of the seats, or on the edge of their sofas at home!

“People were asking how we were going to play until the end of the season, whether we would play ‘with the handbrake off’ like I said after (the 3-0 win against Doncaster) on Tuesday. We always play like that!

“People know we press teams and get in people’s faces but you have to always know when to go for it: we took that handbrake off against Rotherham here last season and were 3-0 down by half time. So it can work both ways.

“But right now I am really happy with the players. That performance on Tuesday is one that the fans would have loved to be here for. We dipped a bit in the second-half but our fans would have got us back up, I’m sure. To play like we did, to keep running and to keep the energy even with no fans there shows you how much the players care.”

Here’s the Oxford side

The Seasiders, already in the midst of a mini injury crisis, are dealt another fitness blow with James Husband becoming the latest player to pick up a knock.

According to Neil Critchley, the defender - who has been playing in the centre of defence in recent weeks - picked up an issue with the bottom of his foot during Tuesday night’s draw against Burton Albion.

While it’s not thought to be too serious, it’s enough to see Husband drop out of the squad altogether.

With centre-backs Marvin Ekpiteta and Daniel Gretarsson already missing through injury, Critchley drafts Jordan Thorniley back into the side in Husband’s place.

Elsewhere, Grant Ward and Elliot Embleton replace Demetri Mitchell and Ellis Simms respectively, as Pool line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Kevin Stewart, Keshi Anderson, CJ Hamilton and Gary Madine all remain sidelined alongside Ekpiteta and Gretarsson.

Youth-team striker Brad Holmes is named among the substitutes for the second game running, joined by fellow prospect Cameron Antwi.

Oxford, meanwhile, make one change to the side that claimed an impressive 3-0 win against play-off rivals Doncaster Rovers in midweek.

And kick-off is moments away.

Can the Seasiders claim a fourth straight away win for the first time since 2007? We’ll soon find out.

Up the mighty Pool!

After both sets of players take the knee, Blackpool’s Kenny Dougall gets the game underway.

2 - No fans, but there’s still noise...

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