Neil Critchley felt his Blackpool side deserved a point at Wigan after suffering a 1-0 defeat that dented their Sky Bet League One play-off aspirations.

An away win would have seen Blackpool climb to sixth in the table on goal difference ahead of the international break.

But Scott Smith’s 26th-minute goal – his first in senior football – proved to be the difference at the DW Stadium, as Wigan climbed to the 50-point mark.

Blackpool had chances to go home with a point, but England Under-21 goalkeeper Sam Tickle denied Shayne Lavery in the first half, before Wigan Academy product Kyle Joseph headed just wide for the visitors after the break.

“Yes, it was a fine line today, and we knew it was going to be like that,” said Critchley. “Looking at some of their recent results, most of them have been low-scoring games, and we knew the first goal would be decisive.

“They got it, from a really great cross but, from our point of view, a poor goal to concede.

“In the second half we were by far the more dominant team, we pinned them back, and it’s not easy to break down 11 men, but we created some decent chances.

“When you do that, you have to take one of them, and we couldn’t do that.

“You’re not going to come here and dominate for 90 minutes, they’re a good team with some good players.

“They play a really good brand of possession football, they overload the middle of the pitch, and they make it really difficult for you.

“I’ve watched a lot of them this season, and they cause a lot of teams a lot of problems with how they play.

“But there was nothing in the game…they got the first goal, and we dominated the second half.

“Overall I thought we deserved to get a point from the game, but it wasn’t to be.”

Wigan boss Shaun Maloney said: “It was two very different halves.

“Blackpool are one of the better teams in the league without the ball, and when you don’t get your build-up play right, they can quickly create chances.

“I really enjoyed the first half, but the second half was the complete opposite.

“We had to defend, and they had a couple of good chances, one a header and one that hit the side-netting.

“But I get just as much pleasure from watching that second-half performance as the first half.

“In the first half, we went very aggressive with the line-up, but we had to play under great pressure – and we did.

“Blackpool are a very good side, they’re going for the play-offs, and the more attacking they went in the second half, the more we had to defend.

“We’ve had to rely on Sam Tickle a lot in these kinds of matches, but I thought we defended pretty well.

“We gave up two chances in that second half, but in other matches we’ve given up a few more.

“In that sense, it was pleasing that we restricted them to that number of chances.”

Peterborough’s promotion push faltered yet further as Karamoko Dembele’s stoppage-time winner consigned them to a fourth consecutive defeat at home to Blackpool.

Dembele, the younger brother of former Posh hero Siriki, fired in just three minutes from time to give Blackpool a 2-1 win, just their fourth away from home this season.

The hosts had led at the break thanks to Hector Kyprianou’s clever near-post header from Harrison Burrows’ corner that took goalkeeper Dan Grimshaw by surprise.

The hosts were in control until the 56th minute, when keeper Jed Steer conceded a penalty having rushed from his line to attempt a punch but fouled Kyle Joseph in the process.

Shayne Lavery stepped up and smashed his effort into the corner as Steer correctly dived to his right.

The Tangerines were in control from that moment on and claimed the three points in the 91st minute when Dembele saw a powerful effort from just outside the box deflected by Posh defender Romoney Crichlow to wrong-foot Steer.

Bristol Rovers manager Matt Taylor questioned referee Gavin Ward as his Pirates lost at home for only the second time in Sky Bet League One this season.

Blackpool came out of the blocks quickest to score twice in the first 20 minutes at the Memorial Stadium en route to a 2-1 victory.

Kyle Joseph twice crossed low, initially for CJ Hamilton to shoot into the top corner of the Rovers net in the fifth minute before midfielder Karamoko Dembele then converted from another Joseph cross 14 minutes later.

Rovers responded through Chris Martin’s deft flick, following a long throw, and Taylor argued that his side should have had a free-kick at least – if not a penalty – when Aaron Collins was brought down with just a minute of the game left to play.

“It’s definitely a foul,” said Taylor. “You’ll probably freeze frame it to see if it was in the box or not but it was definitely a foul.

“Just like the handball in the wall in the first half was definitely that.

“The biggest one for me is their second goal. I need to get clarity from the officials for that in relation to what I need to instruct Connor Taylor to do in that situation.

“Jordan Rhodes is in an offside position and Taylor is stretching and back-pedalling. He heads it into a dangerous area and their player picks it up.

“One pass and it’s in the back of the net. Does he leave it? For me it’s still offside.”

Taylor added that he didn’t think referee Ward had controlled the game, with eight yellow cards handed out in the match, explaining that he would be unlikely to be asked by the media about the referee if the official had produced a good performance.

The former Exeter boss did hint after the game that striker Martin is set to extend his contract through to the end of the season.

Blackpool head coach Neil Critchley dismissed talk that his team might have conceded a late penalty when Collins was caught by two Seasiders defenders as he burst into the penalty area in stoppage time.

“It’s outside the box,” he said. “He falls in the box but it’s outside the box.

“It could have been given but we could have been given one against Nottingham Forest the other night.

“These things happen. I’ve got a list to go through of penalties that we should have had this season. But yes, maybe it was a free-kick.

“We’ve had to do it in a different way today. Certain aspects of our game away have been questioned this season. I think that answers some of them today.

“It wasn’t a pretty game of football but I thought we battled and competed and we had to against a really good team at home.”

Owen Dale, Jordan Gabriel and Marvin Ekpiteta were on target in a 3-0 win for Blackpool against Forest Green to set up a third-round FA Cup tie with Nottingham Forest.

It was Blackpool who drew first blood after 18 minutes when Dale charged down a loose ball and beat keeper Luke Daniels in a 50-50 challenge before tapping into an empty net.

Dom Thompson and Matty Virtue both missed chances to extend the lead before half-time.

Kyle Joseph then had another opportunity to put the game beyond Forest Green but could not find the net.

Rovers manager David Horseman made a triple substitution midway through the second half in search of a route back into the game, including the introduction of player-coach Troy Deeney.

It had little impact as Blackpool continued to dominate, and Gabriel smashed home a second 15 minutes from time.

Ekpiteta put the game beyond doubt when he headed Karamoko Dembele’s free-kick into the net to round off a good night’s work.

Boss Neil Critchley hailed a patient Jake Beesley as the striker scored twice to help Blackpool to a comprehensive 4-0 League One win at home to Shrewsbury.

Beesley scored once in each half, either side of a Kyle Joseph strike that sealed all three points after Jordan Rhodes opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

It was the striker’s first league goals of the season following on from a double in midweek against Morecambe in the EFL Trophy.

The result halts a three-game winless run in the league for the Seasiders and moves them to within goal difference of the play-offs.

“I’m made up for Jake,” said Critchley. “Four goals in a week is a great way to make your mark. He’s seen players come in before him but kept his professionalism.

“It’s been a good day for us. Scoring four goals and keeping a clean sheet is important as well because we’ve not had one for a while.

“You can become loose and complement, so the message at half-time was to keep doing the basics well.

“We played some good football and it was a comfortable win in the end. Scoring first slightly early in the game makes it easier for you.

“We thought we would go for it at home. We thought Shrewsbury would come with a gameplan to be defensive and stop us from controlling the game, so we went with an attacking team.

“The result gets us back on track and gives us a lift. We needed that in the league.”

While victory leaves Blackpool looking up, Shrewsbury manager Matt Taylor rued his side’s performance that sees their patchy league form continue.

Shrews came into the game off the back of 3-2 victories in both the league and EFL Trophy but Taylor admitted his side were well off the pace at Bloomfield Road to condemn them to a 10th league defeat of the season.

“It’s an unacceptable result,” he said. “The goals that we’ve give away without having the time to go back over them aren’t anywhere near good enough.

“We’ve got to be better away from home, accept full responsibility on behalf of the football club for the results. They’re not good enough.

“Our fans have spent money to come and watch us today and for us to go away and put in a performance like that is nowhere near acceptable.

“You can accept being beaten by a team who have had to work hard for their goals, but that hasn’t been the case tonight so (it’s) extremely disappointing.

“It’s a difficult place to come, but what you can’t do is come here and make it difficult for the opposition and that’s what we’ve done today. It’s not good enough.”

Jurgen Klopp out, Steven Gerrard in?

Klopp ended Liverpool's 30-year wait for league glory last season, but the German manager could be set for a return to his homeland.

His exit could see Gerrard return to Merseyside.



Steven Gerrard may soon return to Anfield but as manager to replace Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, according to The Mirror.

Liverpool reportedly expect Klopp to take up an opportunity with Germany in the near future amid doubts over long-time head coach Joachim Low.

As a result, Liverpool legend Gerrard has been sounded out as he has Rangers on a cusp of a drought-breaking league title in Scotland.

Gerrard, who made more than 700 appearances for Liverpool, took control of Rangers in 2018.



- Erling Haaland seems to be on every club's wish list but the Mirror reports Manchester City have joined the queue for the Borussia Dortmund star. City manager Pep Guardiola and Haaland's agent Mina Raiola have a testy relationship but the Premier League leaders will press ahead with an alleged £100million (€115m) deal. English pair Chelsea and Manchester United are also reportedly interested along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Fabrizio Romano says Chelsea want to keep veteran defender Thiago Silva beyond the 2020-21 season. Chelsea signed Silva on a free transfer following his PSG exit.

- LaLiga giants Barcelona are in the market for a young defender and have set their sights on Inter's 21-year-old Alessandro Bastoni, according to Calciomercato.

Arsenal are in the hunt for Wigan Athletic sensation Kyle Joseph, with the teenager scoring five goals in 14 appearances. The Mirror claims the Gunners have joined Celtic and Rangers in their interest in the London-born Scotland youth international whose current contract expires in June.

Liverpool and rivals United are eyeing Leicester City's Harvey Barnes, reports the Mirror. The 23-year-old has established himself as a key player for the Foxes.

- Eric Bailly is in talks with United over a new long-term contract, claims The Sun. The 26-year-old defender, who has been plagued by injuries at Old Trafford, is out of contract in 2022. It comes amid United's reported interest in Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Ibrahima Konate of RB Leipzig and Brighton and Hove Albion star Ben White.

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