Meet Town's opposition: Seasiders have never won at Portman Road
- Credit: PA
Football writer Carl Marston casts his eye over Blackpool, who are this weekend's visitors to Portman Road
Blackpool have never beaten Ipswich Town at Portman Road, and Paul Lambert's men need to preserve that fine record if they are to revive their flagging promotion hopes this weekend.
The Seasiders, just one place and two points adrift of Town in 12th slot, would leapfrog their Suffolk hosts with a first-ever away win on Suffolk soil.
To date, Town are unbeaten in 13 home meetings with Blackpool, featuring seven victories and six draws.
Of course unbeaten records can be shattered at any time, and Blackpool will be feeling confident after recording back-to-back wins over Wigan and Northampton to close the gap on their weekend opponents.
SOLID BUT NOT SPECTACULAR
Blackpool boss, Neil Critchley, believes that his side should be higher in the table at the half-way point of the campaign.
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The Seasiders have accumulated 34 points from their first 23 games, to sit six points adrift of the play-off zone going into the second half of the campaign.
"This group will get better in the second half of the season," insisted head coach Critchley, who was appointed in early March last year.
"I would hope we get more than 34 points in the second half of the season, but I think we should have more than that from the first half."
Critchley, 42, had various roles at Liverpool before his move to Blackpool, having been in charge of the under-18s and under-23s at Anfield, as well as standing in as first team boss for a couple of Cup fixtures last season.
Since securing promotion via the League Two play-offs in 2017, Blackpool have recorded three mid-table finishes in 12th, 10th and 13th.
ONE AWAY WIN PER MONTH
Blackpool have clinched one away league victory during each of the last four months, and this weekend represents the first of three away league fixtures during the month of February.
They have chalked up four league wins on the road, at Burton Albion (2-1 in October), Peterborough United (2-1 in November), Fleetwood Town (1-0 in December) and Wigan (5-0 in January).
And with three draws at Crewe, Accrington Stanley and Hull City, that leaves the Lancashire club 14th in the division's away table with 15 points accrued from 13 fixtures.
On home turf, their record is a little better with 19 points taken from just 10 league fixtures at Bloomfield Road.
YATES IN FORM
Jerry Yates has been the player to watch in Blackpool colours this season, at least over the last three months.
The 24-year-old, recruited from Rotherham last summer, has netted 10 goals in 29 games overall, but this hides the fact that he didn't score in his first 11 appearances.
Yates has since found his feet, chalking up 10 goals in 18 games and four in the last five outings.
He scored his side's late second in a 2-0 home win over Northampton on Tuesday night, after former Leyton Orient defender Marvin Ekpiteta had broken the deadlock early on.
Veteran front-runner Gary Madine is second in the scoring charts with eight goals. The ex-Carlisle, Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton and Cardiff 30-year-old is always a dangerous customer in the box.
Meanwhile, winger CJ Hamilton, who spent four seasons at Mansfield earlier in his career, has cashed in on his summer move to Bloomfield Road by scoring five times.
No other Blackpool player has scored more than two goals this term.
If most recent signing, Elliot Embleton, makes as much of an impact as fellow new face Ellis Simms has already made at Bloomfield Road, then the Seasiders will have landed a gem.
Attacking midfielder Embleton arrived on loan from League One rivals Sunderland on transfer deadline day at the start of this week. The 21-year-old will stay for the remainder of the campaign.
Less than two weeks earlier, young striker Ellis Simms was signed on loan from Everton, a move that has already had its rewards.
Simms scored two goals in his first-ever league appearance. Introduced as a 70th minute substitute for Blackpool's last away fixture at Wigan, the 20-year-old netted two late on, both from close range, in a 5-0 thrashing of the Latics.
Now Embleton will be looking to make a similar strong impression, starting this weekend, after Critchley landed his target against the odds.
"I was slightly surprised,” admitted Critchley, with regards managing to secure the services of Embleton.
"I don’t know about their squad and their numbers, that’s not my decision. But I’m thankful Sunderland have entrusted us to look after Elliot and develop him. If we’re the benefactors of that, then great."
In all, Blackpool welcomed three new arrivals during the transfer window, with defensive midfielder Kevin Stewart having been snapped up as a free agent last month after his release from Hull City.
CHANGE OF FORTUNES
Town thumped Blackpool 4-1 on October 10, a result which saw Lambert's men soar to the top of the League One table, with Blackpool in the bottom four.
A brace from Gwion Edwards, with the addition of first-half goals by Luke Chambers and Teddy Bishop, saw Town make it four wins and a draw from their first five fixtures.
By contrast, it was Blackpool's fourth defeat in five outings.
But since then, while Town have take 23 points from 18 games, the Seasiders have faired better with 31 points amassed from the same number of fixtures.
Blackpool also enjoyed a good FA Cup run, beating Premier League West Brom in round three via a penalty shoot-out before narrowly losing 2-1 at Brighton in the fourth round.