A playoff battle between two of the division’s form sides awaits us at Bloomfield Road between Blackpool and Gillingham

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Blackpool and Gillingham are deep in the playoff hunt and Easter Monday’s game will be vital for how the final standings turn out.

Neil Critchley’s side won 2-0 away at Swindon in a professional performance that earned them their fifth away victory in a row, but despite being unbeaten at home since October, they have only won one of their last six games at Bloomfield Road.

As for Steve Evans’ visitors, they are unbeaten in their last five matches including an impressive 3-0 victory away at Lincoln and a 1-0 home win last time out against strugglers Wigan.

Evans’ side have adopted a direct approach throughout the campaign, but they are not averse to playing on the floor when necessary.

Vadaine Oliver has been the key to the Gills success, notching 14 league goals and causing real issues for opposition defences with his physical presence and aerial threat.

Notwithstanding Oliver’s ability, Jordan Graham has been more than happy to chip in alongside with ten goals and six assists as well as creating a number of key chances and offering the threat from wide areas to push his side up the field.

Kyle Dempsey, who was a hit at his previous club Fleetwood, has eased into the Gills lineup and adds more quality on the ball into the midfield for a side that have perfectly balanced defensive stability and creative output.

The hosts have proven their promotion credentials against a variety of top sides this season and will see this as yet another test of their ever-growing confidence.

Jerry Yates has been on fine form with Gary Madine absent and has been quickly able to interchange between 4-3-3 and 4-4-2 systems when needed.

Ellis Simms scored his first goal in a while for the Seasiders on Friday and he will hope that is the catalyst for an improvement in his first team opportunities in the 4-4-2.

Since Simms’ arrival on loan from Everton, he has been asked to take up the mantle of Madine in the target man role but it is clear that his strengths lie from running in behind rather than competing aerially to hold up play, he proved this with his smart half volley to open the scoring against Swindon.

Despite a large amount of key absentees, Blackpool are slowly able to reintroduce the likes of Daniel Gretarsson and Dan Ballard who both add another level to their defensive strength, having been forced into relying on a makeshift partnership of Ollie Turton and Jordan Thorniley in recent fixtures.

Gretarsson has been a major asset for Critchley since he arrived from Norway and being able to call upon him as the season reaches the latter stages will see a much tighter unit and a confident partnership to rely on.

This game has massive implications for both clubs in what has been a successful campaign for both regardless of where they end up.

Blackpool will be the favourites in this one but Gillingham pose a unique threat and the Seasiders will have to be able to adapt to the Gills style of play in order to combat their direct approaches.

But if the Tangerines play to the tempo they are known to do at their best, from minute one and press with the intensity expected from Neil Critchley, it has to be anticipated that Blackpool’s relentless run will continue.

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