'You can rely on them, they are trustworthy': Neil Critchley on Blackpool's makeshift centre-back partnership
A lot of Blackpool fans will have been fearing the worst when high-flying, free-scoring Peterborough United came to town on Tuesday night.
Darren Ferguson’s side have scored 58 goals this season, a record only bettered by league leaders Hull City, and also boast the league’s joint top goalscorer in Jonson Clarke-Harris (24).
With Blackpool missing three centre-backs, Marvin Ekpiteta and James Husband through injury and Dan Ballard away on international duty, the Seasiders were left depleted in defence.
Neil Critchley opted to partner Jordan Thorniley, Pool’s fourth choice centre-back, with right-back Ollie Turton, with Daniel Gretarsson left on the bench on his return from a two-and-a-half month lay-off.
But Pool fans needn’t have been concerned, as Thorniley and Turton were both on top of their game as the Seasiders ran out deserved 3-1 winners to climb into the League One play-offs for the first time this season.
“Sammy Szmodics, Siriki Dembele and Jonson Clarke-Harris, you don’t get three better strikers altogether in one team in this league. But we gave them virtually nothing,” Critchley said.
“I can’t praise Ollie Turton and Jordan Thorniley enough for keeping Clarke-Harris quiet all evening.
“It’s not easy when they’re hitting long balls up to him near the end of the game, but they competed very well, they covered each other very well.
“You can rely on them, they are trustworthy. They’re good characters, they’re not too emotional so they don’t get too up and they don’t get too down. They’re nice and calm, which is a great feeling because you can trust them both.
“They were really calm, even when we were under pressure near the end of the game, so I felt comfortable on the side because I looked at them and thought ‘we’re going to be fine, they’ll see the game out for us'.”
Turton has been known to fill-in wherever required in his four years with the club, not just in his favoured position of right-back.
The 28-year-old has also been known to cover at centre-back, left-back and even central midfield, but has never let Blackpool down.
“He was immense, absolutely immense,” Critchley added.
“To go into centre-half, somewhere he rarely plays to play against someone of the calibre of Clarke-Harris and keep him quiet, I thought he was outstanding. Him and Jordan Thorniley.
“I thought the organisation of the team tactically, the way the players played was top drawer.
“Grant Ward, the shift he put in and the amount of ball recoveries and second balls he picked up, he was covering back behind Jordan Gabriel, he was in the other corner with Garbs (Luke Garbutt) at another point and in the penalty area cleaning up everything. He was outstanding.”
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