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International Soccer
Blackpool will try to overcome the odds, again

By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Blackpool, England is a seaside town located in North West England with a population of slightly over 140,000 people, making it one of the more populous settlements in that part of the country.

But when compared with a city like London, Blackpool seems like a quaint little village, which is kind of how its soccer team was viewed prior to the start of the current Premiership season.

Blackpool was a team more likely to find itself in the third division of English soccer two years ago than in the top flight, having finished 16th in the Championship the season before.

However, the plucky Tangerines made their way to Wembley for the final of the Championship promotion playoff, where they scored a memorable 3-2 win over a favored Cardiff City side to win promotion to the first division for the first time since the 1970-71 season.

The win set off huge celebrations around Blackpool, but the prevailing feeling at the time was that life in the Premiership next season would be harsh for Ian Holloway's men, so it was good that they were enjoying the moment now.

To the surprise of no one, Blackpool was installed as the team most likely to be relegated at the start of the season, but a 4-0 win at Wigan in the team's opening match suggested otherwise.

A humbling 6-0 defeat at Arsenal offered up a bit of a reality check the following weekend, but over the next few months, Holloway's team developed a reputation for playing an attractive style that was conducive to goals, both for and against.

The club was held without a goal in just four of its first 17 games on their way to a position in mid-table, and Holloway's enthusiasm after each result, win, lose or draw, was infectious.

DJ Campbell feels as though his team has been a bit unlucky.
The 48-year-old Englishman is your classic glass-half-full type of person, always managing to pull out a piece of optimism no matter how dire the circumstances.

And that positive thinking will surely be tested over the remaining six games of the season.

Without a doubt, two highlights of the current campaign for the club are a pair of wins over Liverpool. But since the second victory, which came in mid- January, the results have taken a turn for the worse.

In the 12 games since their 2-1 win over the Reds, Blackpool has earned only five points, dropping the club to just one point above the drop zone and 17th in the table, its lowest position of the season.

Instead of playing a more conservative style in an effort to try and scratch out points, Blackpool remains an attack-minded side, which endears them to fans but also could be its downfall.

The team has been hemorrhaging goals during their dismal 12-game stretch, with opponents outscoring the Seasiders 33-17. And if those numbers continue, it may just be a matter of time before Holloway's team slips into the bottom three.

The latest setback for Blackpool came on Sunday in a 3-1 defeat at home to Arsenal, but striker DJ Campbell feels as though his team has been a bit unlucky and that they have to simply keep fighting.

"It seems like the luck is not on our side at the moment but we've just got to keep digging in deep," Campbell told the club's official website. "That's another game gone, we've got six games left and we need to pick up another six, nine points from somewhere."

With the relegation battle in England being so hotly contested this season, another few wins may be required to save the team from the drop, but the next three games could prove crucial if Blackpool is to stay up.

Wigan, Newcastle and Stoke City will visit Bloomfield Road respectively over the next three weeks, and with road games at Tottenham and Manchester United still to play, the sense of urgency will be ratcheted up.

Blackpool's current form certainly does nothing to suggest that the club is on the verge of turning things around.

But if history has shown us anything, it's that Blackpool is a team that enjoys overcoming the odds.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?
Contact Tim Keeble at tkeeble@sportsnetwork.com.

Follow Tim Keeble on Twitter and Facebook.

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