Five talking points from the EFL weekend: Blackpool's derby win underlines power shift

What are the five things we learnt from the weekend’s EFL action? Gabriel Sutton talks us through it.

The West Lancashire power shift

Remarkably, Blackpool's 2-0 win over Preston North End was the first league fixture between these sides since the 2009/10 campaign.

That season both games ended in draws, the latter of which preceding a series of victories that elevated Pool into the play-offs and promotion under Ian Holloway, before both clubs were relegated from their respective divisions the following season.

The Lancashire neighbours swapped divisions in 2015 and, while the Lilywhites were progressing under Simon Grayson and subsequently flirting with the Championship play-offs under Alex Neil, the Tangerines were languishing in the bottom two divisions of the EFL, picking quarrels with Fleetwood.

Blackpool's Jerry Yates (left) celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at the City Ground, Nottingham

Now, though, it could be argued there has been another power shift, after Keshi Anderson and Gary Madine decided a game of few chances at Bloomfield Road.

Blackpool have an excellent chairman in Simon Sadler, an exciting head coach in Neil Critchley, and a young, hungry, high-pressing group just aching to prove themselves. The coastal club have now also won twice as many league games as their foes.

Bowyer's Birmingham banish their blues

Birmingham went into Saturday's hosting of Swansea having gone seven games without a win.

The Blues had been competitive in all those matches bar Peterborough, so there was nothing to be overly worried about. Equally, there were calls for Lee Bowyer to change formation and freshen up the XI.

Birmingham City manager Lee Bowyer looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match at The John Smith's Stadium,

Instead, the former League Cup winner maintained faith in his players and was subsequently rewarded with a 2-1 victory. That's despite having just 28% of the possession.

The B9 outfit's pressing was especially important against possession-heavy opposition and it was outstanding, with striker Troy Deeney leading the charge from the get-go, Ivan Sunjic re-enforcing the press from midfield and Tahith Chong proving key to the transitional play with his excellent ball-carrying ability.

Also worthy of credit is Dion Sanderson, on loan from Wolves, who looks every inch a Premier League defender. The worry is that Bruno Lage will opt to recall the quick, strong and cultured right-sider in January.

Charlton go on down to Johnnie Jackson

Charlton have found the best association of the words Johnny and Jackson since Cash's 1967 country hit single with June Carter.

After a sea of heartbreak for Nigel Adkins, who was dismissed with the side having won just two of their first 13 league games, Jackson stepped into the ring of fire for the trip to Sunderland; a side very much among the automatic promotion contenders.

Charlton produced a battling performance and won 1-0 at the Stadium of Light, thanks to Jayden Stockley's second half header.

Charlton Athletic caretaker manager Johnnie Jackson celebrates after the final whistle of the Sky Bet League One match at the Stadium Of Light

The Addicks looked reinvigorated and while the hosts had their spells of pressure, during which the Londoners had to ride their luck somewhat, the improvement was vast.

Jackson switched to a wing-back system which saw the energetic Jonathan Leko - previously unable to provide the end product required to nail down a more advanced role - prove a revelation on the right.

Elsewhere, George Dobson - guided by Jackson - offered the work rate, commitment and passing ability that made him so popular with Walsall and Wimbledon fans.

Jackson may or may not be considered a contender for the permanent job, but his work as a caretaker could be invaluable to taking Charlton out of the drop zone and keeping their season alive.

Nigel Clough under pressure at Mansfield

Death, taxes and Mansfield underachieving in League Two.

When John and Carolyn Radford began investing big money into the Stags, they were initially competitive and were unlucky not to win promotion. Steve Evans left at a crucial stage of 2017/18 and the following season, they missed out on the final day.

Since the play-off semi final defeat to Newport in 2019, the Stags have fallen well short of their aspirations under John Dempster, Graham Coughlan and now, Nigel Clough.

Mansfield Town manager Nigel Clough during the Sky Bet League 2 match between Barrow and Mansfield Town at the Holker Street, Barrow-in-Furness on Saturday 6th March 2021

The Nottinghamshire outfit finished 21st in 2019/20, 16th in 2020/21 and 14 games into this campaign, they find themselves in 23rd spot.

Many hoped Clough would be the man to guide what should on paper be a good League Two squad into promotion contention, but so far they are performing massively below expectation.

The former Burton boss hopes with recent performances, most notably Tuesday's 1-1 draw with Port Vale, that the elusive victory is not too far off.

However, the absence of Stephen McLaughlin, Richard Nartey, George Maris, James Perch and Ryan Stirk is being keenly felt.

Hope for Scunthorpe?

Scunthorpe United look a club in crisis.

On the field, the Iron have produced performances lacking not only in quality but also cohesion and natives are hoping rather than believing with genuine conviction that Neil Cox, a popular local figure, can be the answer to their woes.

Those woes are of course guided by off-field troubles. Peter Swann is not the wealthy benefactor he used to be - especially given how his travel business has been affected by the current healthy climate - and the chairman is now facing up to a previous era of overinvestment in experienced players and underinvestment in infrastructure and facilities.

Scunthorpe United's George Taft celebrates after scoring their first goal during the Sky Bet League 2 match between Barrow and Scunthorpe United at the Furness Building Society Stadium

Still, despite all this, a 2-1 victory over Crawley on Saturday offers hope. Problems at the club cannot be resolved without enormous structural change, but they can certainly buy themselves another by staying in the EFL.

While the sense of crisis undoubtedly remains, Scunthorpe were the only victors in the bottom nine at the weekend and the result leaves them a solitary point off safety.

Secure victory at fellow strugglers Colchester this weekend and they will likely be out of the drop zone.

There remains a core of players in goalkeeper Rory Watson, athletic defender Manny Onariase, tidy midfielder Tom Pugh, goalscoring midfielder Alfie Beestin and selfless striker Ryan Loft who - if fit and complemented by the right additions in January - are capable of elevating Scunthorpe out of trouble.

READ MORE: Man Utd manager odds - Zidane favourite, Conte, Rodgers also in the frame to replace Solskjaer

Latest Soccer Videos