Blackpool v West Bromwich Albion; Bloomfield Road, Tuesday 18th April 2023, 7.45pm
Saturday’s comeback win at the Bet365 Stadium means that the Baggies travel to the Lancashire coast on Tuesday evening with the chances of a top six spot still alive. That looked highly unlikely at half time at Stoke, with the Baggies a goal down after another lacklustre performance, but the second half was much improved epitomised by the battling Jayson Molumby and his two goals.
The Irishman had been expected to be out for a month after picking up a groin injury on international duty, all but ending his season, but after missing the trip to Rotherham United on Good Friday he was a surprise inclusion on the bench for the home game with QPR on Monday, and he even came on for the last fourteen minutes as the Baggies chased a winner. It emerged after the match at Stoke that he has been playing with pain-killing injections such is his determination to help the team, and he was rewarded with the first ever brace of his career with what were just his fifth and sixth goals of his senior career.
The bad news to emerge from the match was the Achilles tendon injury for Daryl Dike that looks almost certain to end his season. He has had no luck at all since his transfer to the Hawthorns and it must be devastating for him that what looked like an innocuous incident has resulted in yet another injury. More newsworthy, perhaps, was the injury to Ben Wilmot caused when he fell awkwardly after being tugged by Brandon Thomas-Asante while he was airborne. There was certainly no maliciousness in the challenge by the young striker, but it was unwise and he was fortunate to escape without a yellow card. I’m sure all connected with Albion will wish WIlmot a speedy recovery.
While Dike has been added to the lengthy injury list, there is a chance that Okay Yokuşlu could be available for the game at Bloomfield Road. He is being assessed day-to-day and it was felt late last week that he may well be ready for this match. His return would be a massive boost to the side with Nathaniel Chalobah proving to be a less-than-able replacement.
Dike’s withdrawal on Saturday enabled Karlan Grant to come on in his natural left-sided attacking role with BTA switching to the middle – Albion looked much more balanced in that position with Grant putting in once of his best performances in an Albion shirt for some time. It would seem inevitable that the front three that finished the game on Saturday, Wallace, BTA and Grant, will start at Blackpool. The rest of the side should pick itself – Swift in the number ten position, Okay (if fit) or Chalobah alongside Molumby, with an unchanged back four and the fit-again Alex Palmer between the sticks.
Having finished in a relatively comfortable 16th place last season, Blackpool’s head coach, Neil Critchley, opted to resign to take up the assistant manager’s role under Steve Gerrard at Aston Villa. Former Baggie, Michael Appleton, returned for his second spell at Bloomfield Road but struggled to get a run of results to lift the Tangerines clear of the bottom three. They were as high as 15th in late October after back-to-back wins over Preston North End and Coventry City but then lost at the Hawthorns in what was a massive match for new Albion boss Carlos Corberán – that started a run of ten league matches without a win that proved too much for the Blackpool board and Appleton was dismissed.
He was replaced by Mick McCarthy but the former Wolves boss lasted less than three months – he managed just two wins in his 13 league games in charge, one of them being a 6-1 thumping of QPR, but left by mutual consent after losing at home to relegation rivals Cardiff City on Good Friday. Interim manager, Stephen Dobbie, lost his first game in charge at Luton Town on Easter Monday but the return from injury of talismanic striker, Jerry Yates, for the match with Wigan Athletic on Saturday sparked them to victory with Yates scoring the only goal of the game.
The Seasiders remain four points from safety with just four games left meaning that this game is every bit as important for them as it is for the Baggies. Both clubs will consider this a must-win match but Blackpool haven’t won back-to-back games since October and the last time Albion registered successive away wins was either side of the World Cup at QPR and then Sunderland.
The second forty-five at Stoke has given us Baggies fans hope once again, but if they fail to turn up once again at Blackpool, it will surely all be over. Three points is the only outcome that will keep the hopes alive, and it is a result that the team, even with their extensive injury list, are more than capable of achieving.
Albion’s history with Blackpool dates back to the early part of the 20th century when the Baggies were first relegated to the Second Division in 1901. The first meeting in the October of that year took place at Bloomfield Road and finished all square with Chippy Simmons and Dan Nurse scoring the visitors’ goals in a 2-2 draw.
The Tangerines won only one of the first dozen meetings between the sides, all in Division Two, a 2-1 victory in Blackpool in November 1906, but by the time the teams first met in the top flight, in September 1931, they had recorded six victories over Albion, four of which were at Bloomfield Road.
The Baggies won the first four top flight meetings including a 4-2 win at Bloomfield Road in September 1932, thanks to a hat trick by Tommy Glidden and a goal from Ginger Richardson, which remains the Baggies’ biggest win in Blackpool. The Seasiders were relegated in 1933 but returned for the 1937-38 season in which they completed the league double over Albion as the Baggies were relegated themselves.
After the war, Blackpool were a different prospect, at least partly due to a certain Stanley Matthews but perhaps more down to the goals of Stan Mortensen. The Seasiders won 11 of the 14 meetings between the sides between March 1950 and March 1956 with Mortensen scoring eight goals in the eight games he played against Albion in that period. The last in that run was a 5-1 win at Bloomfield Road – Mortensen had moved on by that point but Matthews was on the scoresheet along with Jimmy Kelly, Jackie Mudie (2) and David Durie – Ronnie Allen scored the Baggies’ consolation from the penalty spot.
In recent years, Albion have had the edge winning seven of the nine league meetings this century with Blackpool’s one win being the only Premier League meeting at Bloomfield Road in November 2010 which saw the visitors reduced to nine men inside half an hour following red cards to Gonzalo Jara and Pablo Ibáñez. The Tangerines’ last success over the Baggies was in the penalty shoot out at the end of the third round FA Cup tie in January 2021 which had finished 2-2. Matheus Pereira, who had scored a penalty during the game, had his decisive spot kick saved by Chris Maxwell after Kyle Edwards and Darnell Furlong had also missed.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
1 Nov 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Yokuslu)
Last meeting at Blackpool
23 Nov 2021 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 0
Last win at Blackpool
3 Feb 2010 – League Championship
Blackpool 2 (Southern, Dobbie)
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Bednár (2), Dorrans (pen))
Albion’s Record against Blackpool
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