Blackpool’s chances of surviving were increased with their 1-0 victory against Birmingham last Saturday, but there is still much work to be done to break free from the gridlock of teams fighting for survival. Blackpool would surpass Reading with a win, yet after the conclusion of this match, a victory by five goals would be necessary to provisionally escape the relegation zone.
The Tangerines have picked up more points in interim manager Stephen Dobbie’s four games (W2, L2) than they did in the eight rounds before (W1, D1, L6), indicating that his team is “starting to believe” that they may achieve safety. However, Blackpool’s winless home record against teams ranked in the top nine at the start of the round may serve to temper expectations. In five of those games (D2, L6), Blackpool failed to score.
The wheels have fallen off for Millwall just when they needed them the most, as they lost 2-1 at relegation-threatened Wigan to go winless in six of their last seven games, dropping them out of the top six (W1, D2, L4). There is still hope for Millwall with six points still to play for and only goal differential standing between them and a play-off berth, but it may require an enormous comeback at this point.
After the Lions’ most recent loss, manager Gary Rowett declared, “I don’t care where we finish, it’s about pride,” which put the onus back on his players. Despite competing at opposite ends of the table, Millwall’s away games against teams ranked 18th or lower were all drawn or decided by a single goal (W3, D1, L2), suggesting that this match-up might be equally competitive.
Blackpool may give Leeds loanee Ian Poveda a start as he scored the game’s winning goal off the bench in his most recent appearance and top scorer Jerry Yates is questionable. Zian Flemming of Millwall scored the game’s first goal in just 14 minutes during the previous meeting, and he has done the same four times this season.
Blackpool’s squad depth is at an all time low, so Dobbie will be hopeful Jordan Thorniley is healthy enough to play on Friday after being pulled off against St. Andrew’s owing to a groin problem.
The game’s goal scorer Poveda, 23, was forced to leave the field after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring injury, he is doubtful to play against Millwall.
Both Keshi Anderson and Jerry Yates were unable to travel to Birmingham, so it is unknown if either will be available on Friday. However, given how crucial they are to the hosts, they might be forced back into action.
The defeat at Wigan on Saturday marked Callum Styles’ first start since January, with his replacement in the 70th minute, Duncan Watmore, vying for a start at Bloomfield Road.
Murray Wallace is still out with a muscular strain, so Scott Malone is continuing to step in at left back. Since the 30 years old injury, the Lions have gone two games without a clean sheet.
Blackpool possible starting lineup
Grimshaw, Gabriel, Nelson, Thorniley, Lyons, Fiorini, Patino, Bowler, Carey, Hamilton and Rogers.
Millwall possible starting lineup
Long, McNamara, Hutchinson, Cooper, Malone, Saville, Mitchell, Burke, Flemming, Watmore and Bradshaw.
We predict: Blackpool 0-1 Millwall
Even though Blackpool has won two of their previous three games, their survival prospects are hanging by a thread. Blackpool gained a much needed victory at Birmingham the last time they played.
After two losses in a row, Millwall will be motivated and should be able to pick up three points to extend their battle for a top six finish until the last day of the season.