The top half beckons

As August drew to a close Saturday's visitors Blackpool had played five League One games and scored only two goals, both of which came in their opening day win (2-0) against Burton.

They followed that with three 0-0 draws - at Exeter and at home to Leyton Orient and Port Vale - before being well beaten 0-3 at Lincoln. Not surprisingly, they entered the transfer market for strikers.

Twenty year olds Kylian Kouassi and Karamoko Dembele joined from Sutton United and Brest. Blackpool's third attacking signing was a little better known - it was Jordan Rhodes on a season-long loan from Huddersfield. His arrival has prompted three wins from the last five games during which he has scored five goals himself, including his first hat-trick for four years. He also scored the goal in last Saturday's impressive 1-0 win at Barnsley and he almost added another in Tuesday's home defeat to Derby but hit the bar with the score at 1-2. The visitors went on to add a third.

At 33 he is not quite the threat that he was in his heyday. In 2011/12 he scored 36 goals in 40 games for Huddersfield as they followed us out of League One. Over the next four years he was to get another 83 Championship goals in 159 appearances for Blackburn. He wasn't quite so sharp at Sheffield Wednesday (15 in 83) nor when he returned to Huddersfield (8 in 55) which is what prompted them to release him on loan. So far, dropping down a level seems to suit him fine.

There will also be great interest in the returning Albie Morgan and we hope he gets a warm welcome. He was an unused substitute on Tuesday and has rarely played a full ninety minutes since joining Blackpool so we may not get to see much of him on the pitch. Perhaps the inconsistencies that plagued him in SE7 have followed him up north.

It is only nine months ago that Blackpool sacked Michael Appleton when they were languishing in the Championship relegation zone. His replacement - Mick McCarthy - was unable to keep them up and they are now managed by Neil Critchley. It is his second stint at Bloomfield Road, having left in June 2022 to be assistant to Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa. He lasted four months before he and Gerrard were relieved of their duties. He followed that with two unsuccessful months at QPR before being sacked in February this year.

On playing his previous employers, Appleton commented:

"I’m sure that will bring a bit of spice into it. I’m looking forward to it and if you walked into that dressing room (on Tuesday night), I’m sure they’d say the same.”

Everyone was lifted by the outcome of the Exeter game but maybe the score slightly flattered us. A seemingly harsh red card inevitably impacted on Exeter’s ability to come back from a goal down and when nine minutes of extra time were signalled, you could sense that they were ready to have a shower and get on the coach back home. However, there were undoubtedly some real positives for Charlton; Alfie May was highly effective in a deeper position;  Louie Watson was a live wire;  Chuks was rusty when it came to shooting but too hot to handle when on the turn; Miles Leaburn took his opportunity calmly and clinically. Even the defence looked a bit more secure, although not yet fully watertight.

So we will be making our way to The Valley on Saturday with a spring in our step. Three more points might even propel us into the top half of the table.