Appleton out to upset Holloway's applecart

 

Michael Appleton, the Blackpool manager, wants to get the better of his predecessor at the club, Ian Holloway, in today's trip to Crystal Palace in the Championship.

It is only 35 days since Holloway ended his successful spell at Bloomfield Road after choosing to swap the seaside for south London. He has since led Palace to second in the table but now comes up against his former club, who are unbeaten since Appleton's arrival from Portsmouth.

"If we can get three points I'll be absolutely delighted," Appleton said yesterday. "It doesn't matter who it is against. It's a big, big game because we want to go there and keep an unbeaten run going and they're up there at the top of the league, and deservedly so.

"Until this point they've been one of the two most consistent teams in the division and that's why they are where they are. They've got a lot of talent, especially in the wide areas, that we need to nullify if we can.

"I think from a fans' point of view they'll be desperate for the players to do well and I'm sure that will add a little bit of extra spice to the atmosphere. But from a game point of view, we know what their strengths and weaknesses are and we'll try and nullify their strengths and open them up on their weaknesses."

Victory would help Blackpool close the gap on the play-off places, although they will have to do so without Ian Evatt, Matt Phillips and Chris Basham. All three are all sidelined and Gary Taylor-Fletcher is a doubt to face the Eagles, having returned to training only this week. Palace can welcome back Andre Moritz and Darcy Blake.

Holloway's assistant, Keith Millen, who followed him from Blackpool, hopes the fans at Bloomfield Road are grateful for what their former manager did at the club.

"He's very proud of what he achieved in the three years he was up there – it was the best journey Blackpool fans have ever been on, and that's the same with Ian," Millen said. "That will never change, and I think just because on Saturday when we play against each other, the rivalry gets heightened, but deep down, I'm sure all Blackpool fans and players, and Ian himself, will all love the time they were together."

Third-place Leicester City welcome Barnsley this afternoon, while Middlesbrough travel to bottom side Peterborough and fifth faces sixth when Hull City take on Watford at Vicarage Road. Ipswich Town will be hoping to pick up a third successive win when they take on Millwall, who are on a 13-match unbeaten run, Charlton face Brighton and Huddersfield are at home to Bolton.

Nottingham Forest play Burnley and Bristol City travel to fellow strugglers Sheffield Wednesday, while Derby host Leeds in the early kick-off. Wolves will be looking to build on last weekend's 4-1 win at Bristol City when they host Birmingham in the day's late match.

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