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Blackpool 1 v 0 Rochdale
SkyBet League One
Tuesday, 16th February 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Match Preview: Blackpool vs Rochdale
Monday, 15th Feb 2021 21:53 by atthepeake

A week on from a crushing home defeat to Milton Keynes, Rochdale return to action with a trip to Blackpool on Tuesday night.

Date: Tuesday 16th February 2021
Kick-off: 7:00pm
Venue: Bloomfield Road
Since Saturday's match at AFC Wimbledon was postponed due to a frozen pitch at Plough Lane, much of my preview for that game still stands when it comes to Dale, so I'll leave you with my thoughts (including a couple of tweaks) ahead of the postponement and after two disappointing results in the team's last two games:

After play-off chasing Charlton left Greater Manchester with three points earned from a 0-2 victory on Saturday, Dale succumbed to a 1-3 loss to Milton Keynes on Tuesday night. A disastrous eight-minute spell, in which the visitors scored three times in quick succession, saw questions asked regarding Brian Barry-Murphy's future in the aftermath of the defeat.

While some supporters have never quite taken to the Irishman's footballing philosophy, the vast majority have remained patient and positive, but the manner of Tuesday's defeat felt like a turning point for many and pressure is seriously mounting on the manager and his team at this stage of the season.

Although hopes for the campaign were low amongst many fans at the start of the season, there have been flashes of quality to show the potential of this squad, including emphatic away wins over the likes of Wigan Athletic and Plymouth Argyle. Given the obvious ability of the players, some fans are now rightly questioning whether the set-up of the team is holding them back given more recent performances and results.

It would be untruthful to suggest that these problems have only started to arise now, too. Many, while backing BBM to turn the team's fortunes around, have often criticised his stubbornness to stick to the plan even in the face of adversity and the leaky defence has shown little to no signs of being fixed as the season has progressed either.

With questions being asked, it remains to be seen whether Barry-Murphy's seemingly unwavering belief in his philosophy will be temporarily halted in order to produce a more effective, if less attractive, style of play. With just four points separating Dale in 18th from Burton in 24th, now would be the time to adopt a more pragmatic approach like the one seen in the latter stages of the 2018/2019 season upon the manager's appointment.

One player who would certainly add some much-needed aggression and experience to the team would be Paul McShane, but it seems unlikely that the former Sunderland and Hull City man will return from injury for this game while Jimmy Ryan and Jake Beesley are both expected to remain out too.

Captain Eoghan O'Connell limped off the pitch during the defeat to Milton Keynes so yet another defensive reshuffle may be required while Conor Shaugnessy will hope to retain his starting position at the base of the midfield having made his debut on Tuesday evening following his deadline day arrival.

Blackpool are only a couple of places above Dale in the league table, despite eight points separating the teams. Plus, given that the side's best performances this term appear to have been saved for Tuesday night away games, the visitors may make the short trip to the seaside with more confidence than you might imagine for a team in such poor form at the moment.
Hopes were high For Blackpool this season, with the club now on a steady footing having finally managed to oust unpopular owner Karl Oyston from the club and Simon Sadler giving fans reason to hope for a more successful future.

Neil Critchley, a highly-rated coach who had spent the previous seven years on the backroom staff at Liverpool, was appointed in the summer and given funds to improve the squad and as a result, there has been a large turnover of playing staff at Bloomfield Road in what is already an unpredictable campaign in current circumstances.

In the summer and January transfer windows combined, the Tangerines have made 14 permanent signings and seven loan signings, Three of those loanees have since returned to their parent clubs while former Rochdale man MJ Williams left the club to join Bolton Wanderers in January less than six months after arriving on the Fylde Coast.

With such a turnover of players, it's perhaps understandable that Blackpool have struggled for consistency this season as they look to get to grips with Critchley's playing style and the 42 year old himself looks to adapt to life as a first-team manager after so long working with youth teams at Liverpool.

And that lack of consistency currently sees the Seasiders residing in 16th place in the table. However, while an 8 point gap separates them from Dale in 18th, only 10 points separate them from the play-off places, so the hope will be that a side that managed to knock Premier League side West Bromwich Albion out of the FA Cup last month can start to show their quality on a more regular, consistent basis.

Having won back-to-back fixtures against relegation candidates Northampton Town and Wigan Athletic, Critchley's men were unable to capitalise for a third straight win in their last fixture just over a week ago when they fell 2-0 to Ipswich Town. That result perhaps shows that while the Tangerines have enough quality to battle past the weaker teams in the league, they need to do more to be able to push for the top six spot they had surely been hoping for in the summer.

The Blackpool squad is packed with recognisable names in the lower leagues, not least two former Dale transfer targets. It was reported that the club had tried and failed to snare Demetri Mitchell on deadline day last week and just over a year ago, we were thwarted in an attempt to bring CJ Hamilton to the club from Mansfield. He instead opted to move to Bloomfield Road this summer.

Oliver Turton, James Husband and Gary Madine are all well-known at this level, while Jerry Yates has continued his fine form from Swindon's promotion-winning campaign into his life at Blackpool having been another of the new arrivals during the summer.

This is a tough, but ultimately winnable game for Dale if they can produce the kind of performance that saw them pick up emphatic victories over Wigan Athletic and Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday nights earlier in the season. Indeed, it may just have to be a winnable one for Brian Barry-Murphy.

Ipswich Town (a) - LOSS
Northampton Town (h) - WIN
Wigan Athletic (a) - WIN
Brighton & Hove Albion (a) - LOSS
Hull City (a) - DRAW

Milton Keynes (h) - LOSS
Charlton Athletic (h) - LOSS
Bristol Rovers (a) - WIN
Oxford United (h) - LOSS
Gillingham (a) - DRAW
DRAW - 9

26 Sep 2017 - Blackpool 0-0 Rochdale - League One
01 Jan 2018 - Rochdale 1-2 Blackpool - League One
06 Oct 2018 - Blackpool 2-2 Rochdale - League One
26 Dec 2018 - Rochdale 2-1 Blackpool - League One
24 Aug 2019 - Rochdale 0-0 Blackpool - League One

Photo: Action Images

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