Neil Critchley hails Blackpool players for maintaining momentum into play-offs

Blackpool v Bristol Rovers – Sky Bet League One – Bloomfield Road
Blackpool v Bristol Rovers – Sky Bet League One – Bloomfield Road (PA Wire)
15:56pm, Sun 09 May 2021
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Neil Critchley was delighted that Blackpool maintained their play-off momentum with a 1-0 win over Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers.

Substitute Ellis Simms struck 10 minutes from time to make it four successive victories, the best form of any side still shooting for promotion to the Championship.

Oxford now await in the play-offs and Critchley felt the narrow win over already-relegated Rovers was vital to keep the Seasiders riding the wave.

“We wanted to keep that momentum going into the play-offs, and we have done,” said Critchley.

“We wanted to get that balance right between resting players and giving players minutes, but also putting a strong enough team out there to win this game.

“Over the 90 minutes both teams had some really good chances, but overall I thought we just about deserved to win the game.

“It extends our winning run to four games, it was another clean sheet, and we’ve reached our target of 80 points which was really pleasing for me.

“It’s been a fantastic day for us, and now we get a little bit of a breather before some even more exciting games coming up for the club.

“We want everyone to be in the right rhythm going into the play-off games now, but we’ve got to get that balance right between rest and preparation now.

“We’ll be ready and good to go on Tuesday night, and we’ll have a healthy-ish looking squad, which is all I can ask for really.”

Rovers threatened first at Bloomfield Road, with Alex Rodman seeing a deflected strike only just clear the crossbar.

The hosts were on top heading into the interval and Keshi Anderson was denied by a superb point-blank save from Jed Ward in the 43rd minute.

Just after the restart Ward was there again to keep out Elliot Embleton’s strike from an acute angle.

Rovers went close again on the hour mark when Rodman fired off target after meeting Cameron Hargreaves’ smart pass.

Rodman then headed wide after rising to meet Luke McCormick’s cross, but it was Simms who went on to settle it late on.

Gas boss Barton admitted it was a difficult loss to suffer.

He said: “It was tough to lose it so late, but I guess that’s been the story of our season.

“Again, we just can’t seem to score goals and we can’t seem to keep a clean sheet.

“It’s a disappointing end to the season, but now the job really really starts, and it’s all going to be my responsibility from here onwards.

“The technical details will be mine, the stats will be mine and there will be no one else to point fingers at.“The lads have tried gallantly once again, but over the course of the season I think they’ve cut too many corners.

“It hasn’t felt like a proper football season mainly because of the absence of the fans, but that can’t be helped.

“In many ways some of the lads are lucky that they haven’t been playing in front of our crowds.

“Our fans need to be able to follow a team they can be proud of next season now.”

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