South West Challenge Cup
Following on from the 4-0 win at Burscough on Saturday with goals from Gary Taylor-Fletcher (2), Brett Ormerod and Daniel Nardiello (although the last goal looked suspiciously like an own goal!) the squad today arrived in North Devon ahead of tomorrow's game against Barsntsaple Town.
Last week Ian Holloway told the North Devon Journal, 'I was totally involved (in the decision to enter the tournament). When I took over there was absolutely nothing planned for pre-season. I'll have them training three times a day — twice when we've got a match. Down there, they're mine, they belong to me.'
'It's not as glamorous as where we went with Plymouth Argyle, out to Austria, but to me it feels like home and I'm looking forward to getting back down there.'
'The quality of games we could have in the tournament really appealed to me. There are two teams that got promoted to League One (Exeter City and Wycombe Wanderers) and I know Yeovil Town very well. It's a good opportunity.'
He also confirmed that whilst it would be good to win the tournament, the main focus will be on player fitness and team bonding, saying, 'We haven't got very long to get into them what I want them to do. It's very awkward but it's a challenge I'm liking. I want to tell them it's all about winning, but in pre-season really it's all about fitness. As a player, if you miss out on a full pre-season you can't play catch-up and you will have a bad season.'
'It's all about the first league game. We have to make sure everybody is getting toward peaking in September.
'You can't just blast people like we used to years ago in pre-season training, they've got to last for 10 months. Most athletes can build up training toward an event but in football, fitness has got to be sustainable.' and adding 'It's the first time I've experienced a pre-season tournament and I'm looking forward to it. We want to win but I won't be too alarmed if we don't have to play the semi-final on Saturday and then the final on Sunday.'
'We are entering to give a good account of ourselves but most of all I want the players to buy into my fitness regime.'
Blackpool are the highest ranked team in the tournament. There are four other Football League sides - Exeter City, Wycombe Wanderers, Yeovil Town and Grimsby Town; two Conference National sides - Luton Town and Rushden & Diamonds. They are joined by defending champions Eastleigh from Hampshire, along with three local sides - Barnstaple Town, Bideford and Ilfracombe Town as well as Belgian lower league club RRFC Montegnée.
Blackpool, who are in Group D, take on Barnstaple Town at their Mill Road ground on Monday, kick-off 8:00pm. And then play Conference National side Rushden & Diamonds at Marlborough Park, Ilfracombe, on Wednesday, kick-off 8:00pm.
If the Seasiders win their group they will face the winners of Group B - either Yeovil Town, Grimsby Town or RRFC Montegnée on Saturday at Marshford, Appledore. The final is on Sunday 19th at the Sports Ground, Bideford.