City made it two wins out of two on Tuesday night with a come from behind 2-1 win against League Two Crawley in a match that in truth wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggested. Gary Caldwell fielded a strong side, although Demetri Mitchell and Jack Aitchison were notable absentees with Caldwell confirming they were both out with knocks, Mitchell’s in particular was evident at Wycombe when he departed early in the match. Aitchison is therefore more likely than Mitchell to take the field against Blackpool, although that may be considered harsh on James Scott, who after a difficult time since signing in January has hit the ground running this season with two in two so far. Harry Kite remains sidelined, although Kyle Taylor’s return continues apace with the equaliser against Crawley. Another absentee could be Pierce Sweeney, whose night lasted just 15 minutes on Tuesday, which would likely lead to a centre back trio of Aimson, Hartridge and Jules on Saturday – Aimson in particular will be keen to do well against his former employers.
Following the acrimonious departure of Neil Critchley to Aston Villa last summer, Blackpool’s season ended up doomed to failure, only finishing off the bottom due to Wigan’s three point deduction, and five points from safety. Old hands Michael Appleton and Mick McCarthy tried and failed to keep them up, but all is now forgiven with Critchley, who has returned to try to replicate what he did in 2021. The pundits saw the summer departure of the talismanic Jerry Yates to Swansea as a sign that this may not be achievable, with the consensus being that Blackpool may be a playoff contender but little more. However, like City Blackpool come into Saturday’s fixture on the back of successive victories – the league opener saw them beat City Old Boys XI (aka Burton) 2-0, while it was the same scoreline at Pride Park on Tuesday night as Derby were put out of the EFL Cup. Shane Lavery did the damage against Burton with both goals and he will need to be watched, while amongst the summer signings was Oliver Norburn, who has a wealth of experience at this level. Curtis Nelson departed for Derby in the summer, but Matthew Pennington is considered a handy signing at the back.
City supporters will have bad memories of the last meeting between the sides, coming as it did at Wembley in 2017 in the League Two playoff final and the first of three defeats in four years at that stage. With Blackpool supporters still engaged in a boycott of the club the stadium was less than a quarter full, mostly with City supporters, and Blackpool won a dire match 2-1 – Potts scored early, Wheeler equalised before half time before Cullen scored what proved to be the winner midway through the second half to ensure the Seasiders returned to the third tier at the first attempt having been in the Premier League just a few seasons previously. Blackpool had taken four points from the league games – the corresponding match finished 2-2 after a horror injury to Robbie Simpson – the visitors led 2-0 at the break through future City player Colin Daniel and Potts before City recovered in the second half with Ollie Watkins and a stoppage time equaliser from Reuben Reid completing the comeback. The reverse was the opening fixture of the season and saw Blackpool win 2-0 through Vassell and a Troy Brown own goal. That win extended Blackpool’s league head to head lead over City to 7-4, with five matches finishing level.
The match officials will be:-
Referee: Sam Purkiss
Assistant Referee: Daniel Flynn and Sam Ogles
Fourth Official : Hugh Gilroy
Sam Purkiss last refereed us August 2022 away to Cambridge where we lost 2-1.
Pre-match interview with Gary Caldwell
Pre-match interview with Kyle Taylor