Blackpool vs. Forest preview..

An evening in the company of Stan Collymore contributed to both my remaining oblivious to the political mud-slinging in last night’s leaders debate, and it also put paid to when I would normally do a match preview.  So a little bit sorry, although Stan was good value for an evening’s entertainment – topped off by his magnificent (and seemingly off-the-cuff) gesture of donating his promotion-winning shirt to an auction to raise money for Headway, in the memory of Blaine Thomas (more about this over at LTLF).

Stan remains very much ‘The Man’, though.  What a top fella.

So, Blackpool.  Still within a real shout of sneaking in to the play-offs, the Tangerines will be up for this probably more so than the play-off confirmed Reds.  That said, Billy is likely to give opportunities to some of the fringe players who will be eager to stake their claim for a place in the squad as the countdown to the end of the season goes on.

Our hosts welcomed back former-Reds loanee Brett Ormerod from injury for their last game – and he put his case forward for a return to the side with a goal in a 4-1 defeat against league leaders Newcastle.  Seamus Coleman’s loan extension makes him available – so all Holloway needs to contend with is the absence of Bouazza and McPhee, with Eardley facing a late fitness test.

The Reds have minor injury niggles to Adebola and Chambers, aside from that Billy might be looking around for signs of fatigue in his squad.  With folks like McGugan, McCleary and Garner in the sidelines keen for a game, he may well decide to rest some of his players with more gametime under their belt.

Blackpool can ascend into the play-offs with victory over us should Swansea fail to beat Barnsley, so will be feeling considerable pressure.  That said, Forest will be keen to cement a 3rd or 4th place finish to ensure a home tie for the second leg of the play-off semi-finals, so there should certainly be no let off from us despite the likely shuffling of the playing pack.

A run of four consecutive wins was the form of our hosts which was rudely interrupted with a hefty defeat at the hands of Newcastle.  However, on their own ‘pitch’ (which is themed to match the nearby beach!) they’re unbeaten in six, since Leicester beat them back in February (Leicester too could be looking over their shoulders at Blackpool should they beat us, and the Foxes lose to Watford).

As ever the Reds are expecting a full attendance of travelling fans – and it’s certainly a trip that will feel less stressful than recent away travel has been.  I’m feeling an element of pressure as – having attended all the losing run away, I missed the Bristol City game where we notched a point, but well – hopefully I can put my own personal hoodoo to bed as well!

It’s really difficult to try to predict outcomes given the unpredictability of Billy’s squad selection at this juncture.  Certainly – Newcastle aside – the home team are on a good run of form, and will cope better with the poor playing surface than whatever team we opt for.  Having said that, the balance of pressure is to our advantage somewhat – so we might have less ‘stage fright’ issues.

A tough call – so I’m going to sit on the fence and predict a draw.  That would be sufficient to get us a guaranteed third or fourth place, indeed, if Cardiff were to lose at Queens Park Rangers it would be likely to guarantee us third place.  A win would be nicest of all, a third place finish guaranteed with two games to go!

Match report highly unlikely to appear before some point on Sunday when I’ve recovered sufficiently!

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