By Rob Nichols
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Blackpool have so often been a team too far for Boro. There can be no better time to burst that bad bubble than in this weekend's Riverside fixture. Victory over Blackpool will mean exiting 2012 on a back to back victory high. Come On Boro. Kick off 3pm at the Riverside. Come on down and support your Boro.
Many of us still have nightmares about that stormy night in September when Ian Holloway's Blackpool swept us off the pitch and almost into the Irish Sea. It was a real thrashing and a 4-1 final scoreline that did not lie. But Boro bounced back immediately from the midweek mauling to unseat Championship leaders Blackburn Rovers at Ewood on what was a fantastic Friday. And if that Friday fixture was a season turner for both Boro and Rovers, then Blackpool's victory over Boro was as good as it was going to get for the Tangerines. Holloway lost the lurve and they went on a big dipper style slide from nailed on Premier contenders to no way men in a matter of weeks.
Former Pompey manager Michael Appleton has steadied things at Bloomfield Road and revived the team that so recently featured in Premier vision. Mind you just how they might cope without their Thomas Ince main man could be another matter. The son of the former Boro skipper will no doubt be a major thorn in our side this weekend, coming in off the wing to try and cause chaos.
Boro will probably be without Bikey and maybe Seb Hines as well, so it could be captain Rhys Williams starting his first match since injury at the end of August alongside Jonathan Woodgate. The pair looked secure enough in the second half on Boxing Day and will provide a formidable defence against Delfouneso, Dicko and Ince, or whoever they play upfront where they are very strong indeed. In fact one of the less glam of their attackers Taylor-Fletcher did plenty of damage against us at Bloomfield Road.
Faris Haroun could be back to try and run Blackpool ragged in midfield. The Belgian can have a big influence on games when he takes them by the scruff of the neck. Let's hope he is fit for purpose to help run the show alongside Grant Leadbitter.
We have such a bad record against this club, if you set aside the Mannion Match, well before my time I can only remember a series of defeats over us, with players like Paul Stewart starring against us. Well, there was the odd draw like the 2-2 Riverside result from last season. So, not quite all doom and gloom then.
A victory tomorrow over the team now 11 points and eight places below us in the Championship table would increase the pressure on second place Hull City (who face a tricky Yorkshire derby at home to Leeds United) and announce our intentions of making a big bid for automatic promotion in the New Year.
Let's hope Lukas Jutkiewicz will continue his little spell of goalscoring returns. And it would be good for another forward to get in on the act as well, be it Scotty Mc, Marvin or Miller we need the forwards to start finding the net regularly now.
So let's hope for a Boro win tomorrow. Come On Boro
Fmttm Prediction: Boro to finally beat Blackpool 2-1.