Blackpool 1-0 Hull City: Gary Madine penalty and late Dan Grimshaw heroics ensure New Year’s Day victory
Madine’s first-half spot kick ensured an important win for the Seasiders, who went into the game off the back of two gut-wrenching late defeats.
The margin of victory could well have been greater against a Covid-hit Hull side, with Neil Critchley’s men squandering multiple chances to make life more comfortable for themselves.
Nevertheless, Pool were still reliant on two superhuman saves from Dan Grimshaw deep into stoppage-time to avoid any last-gasp drama for the third game running.
Blackpool’s New Year’s Day win means the move up to 12th in the Championship, although they’ve played a lot more games than other sides around them in the table.
In fact, the Seasiders are the only Championship side to have played 26 games this season, as Covid postponements continue to wreak havoc across the second tier.
Gary Madine’s penalty was the difference between the two sides
Connolly was Blackpool’s standout performer against Middlesbrough, but was given a rest having not trained for a week leading up to that game on Wednesday night.
Wintle’s return was one of three changes Critchley made to his team, as he brought Josh Bowler and Shayne Lavery back in following their impressive cameos off the bench against Boro.
Daniel Gretarsson and Jerry Yates were the two to make way as Blackpool reverted to the 4-4-2 formation they’ve more often than not adopted this season.
Jordan Gabriel served the second game of his two-game suspension for his red card in the Boxing Day defeat to Huddersfield Town.
Despite being dismissed for two yellows, the right-back has been kept out for two games having been sent off for Nottingham Forest earlier in the season.
Chris Maxwell, Luke Garbutt, Reece James, Kevin Stewart, Matty Virtue, Grant Ward, Sonny Carey and Owen Dale all remain sidelined through a mixture of injuries and Covid, making it nine absentees in total.
Hull, who returned to action after having two consecutive games postponed due to Covid, made one change from their last outing, the 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest the week before Christmas.
Despite their extended break, it was Blackpool who made the brighter start, causing plenty of early problems down their right flank with Josh Bowler.
The winger teed up Keshi Anderson early on, but the midfielder couldn’t quite control his shot from the edge of the box and slashed wide.
It remained all Blackpool in the early stages, as the returning Lavery was inches away from latching onto Anderson’s through-ball down the centre of the field.
Despite their bright start, the Seasiders almost conceded the first goal of the game on 10 minutes in calamitous circumstances.
Dan Grimshaw’s attempted clearance fell straight to a Hull player, resulting in Josh Magennis taking the ball around the keeper before looking to get a shot off at goal.
The ball pinballed around the box before falling to George Honeyman, whose goalbound effort took a big deflection off Richard Keogh.
Despite being wrongfooted, Grimshaw somehow altered his body to make an outstanding one-handed save to keep the scores level.
After 16 minutes, the Tigers were forced into an early change as Callum Elder hobbled off the pitch with an injury.
Elder was repaced by Tyler Smith, a forward, which resulted in the away side switching things up and moving to a back three, a system Blackpool have often struggled against this season.
The game soon became a little flat, with the Seasiders struggling to find their way past Hull’s stubborn resistance.
Given this was Blackpool’s third game in the space of seven days, perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a major surprise to see the tempo drop.
Hull perhaps sensed Blackpool were carrying some tired legs and began to apply their first concerted spell of pressure of the game.
Richie Smallwood almost headed his side into the lead when he rose highest to meet Honeyman’s corner.
A minute or so later, Marvin Ekpiteta had to stretch out one of his long legs to make a vital clearance before a Hull player could get a shot off at goal only 10 yards or so out.
Somewhat against the run of the play, Critchley’s side were awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark.
Bowler, Blackpool’s main attacking threat in the first-half, was the man fouled, brought down by Jacob Greaves who claimed he won the ball.
On first viewing and having not yet seen a replay, it looked like he had a point. But it was also about time the Seasiders had some luck go in their favour.
Gary Madine put the ball down on the spot and duly smashed it down the middle for his fourth of the campaign.
The Seasiders had to tread carefully though as they were almost pegged back by Hull barely two minutes later.
Keane Lewis-Potter let fly with what looked to be an overly ambitious effort from effort, but his dipping shot almost crept into the bottom corner – only for Grimshaw to make another fine save to tip it around the post.
Five minutes before the break, Pool could quite easily have doubled their lead when Anderson was set free in the box thanks to Madine’s clever ball over the top, but – not realising how much space he was in – the left winger side footed tamely wide.
Tame could also be used to describe his effort two minutes later, when he shot straight at Baxter from a good position in the Hull box.
The first-half ended with substitute Smith skewing wide with a glorious chance for the visitors as Blackpool’s defence was prized open far too easily.
Blackpool continued to pepper the Hull goal and came close to doubling their lead with their first opening of the second-half.
Bowler was involved yet again, slipping in Dujon Sterling on the overlap whose cross ricocheted back to Bowler, whose low shot was well saved by Baxter.
The ball rebounded nicely for Anderson who had the simple task of tapping home, but he scuffed over with the linesman’s flag already raised.
The game became very stop-start from this point onwards, with three Hull players requiring medical treatment.
Indeed, after the hour mark Josh Magennis became Hull’s second player to limp off with an injury to be replaced by Tom Eaves, who scored in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Two minutes later, yet another good chance for Blackpool went to waste as Madine headed wide from Anderson’s lofted cross.
Hull’s Di’shon Bernard, meanwhile, was fortunate to avoid stricter punishment after scything Anderson down in late and rash fashion, which only earned him a yellow.
While Critchley’s men were comfortable, he still turned to the bench to freshen things up with 18 minutes remaining, replacing the quiet Lavery with Jerry Yates.
The walking wounded away side somehow managed to finish the game with their full complement of players on the pitch despite suffering a number of knocks.
The Tigers could well have salvaged something from the game as well, coming close twice in quick succession deep into stoppage-time.
But thankfully Blackpool managed to avoid last-gasp drama on this occasion, as Grimshaw stood tall to make two stupendous saves to deny Tyler Smith and Randall Williams.
Blackpool: Grimshaw, Sterling, Ekpiteta, Keogh, Husband, Dougall, Wintle, Bowler (Connolly), Anderson (Gretarsson), Lavery (Yates), Madine
Subs not used: Moore, Casey, Mitchell, Hamilton
Hull: Baxter, Elder (T. Smith), Greaves, Longman, McLoughlin, Bernard, Smallwood (Williams), Docherty, Lewis-Potter, Honeyman, Magennis (Eaves)
Subs not used: Cartwright, Fleming, M. Smith, Cannon
Referee: Dean Whitestone