Blackpool began 2016 with a defeat against League One’s new leaders Burton Albion, who played with ten men for the entire second half.
Mark Duffy curled in a brilliant winner for the hosts beyond an inspired Colin Doyle, after Robbie Weir had been sent off for two bookable offences.
On a costly afternoon, where Mark Cullen and Clark Robertson were both forced off with injuries, Pool were left frustrated by fine form from the home goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin.
Their own stopper Doyle was equally as impressive at the other end, but Andy Little’s late header which flew over the bar summed up another frustrating afternoon.
It was the recalled Bright Osayi-Samuel who threatened first, and he thought he’d scored his first goal in professional football, only for McLaughlin to fly across goal and turn the winger’s volley over the bar in spectacular fashion.
A pleasant sight for all Blackpool fans was Doyle being back between the sticks and the stopper’s first actions since returning from an ankle injury saw him comfortably gather efforts from Tom Naylor and Nasser El Khayati.
Blackpool’s bright start was slowly being taken over by the hosts, who’s clever free-kick saw Damien McCrory curl over the bar. Next Phil Edwards wasted a god opening when he snatched at a chance from Duffy’s corner.
Will Aimson, who was being deployed further forward than in recent weeks, showed his ability with the ball at his feet soon after, but Osayi-Samuel couldn’t get his pass under full control and was again thwarted by McLaughlin.
When the two side met at Blackpool back in August the contest will be remembered for El Khayati’s fine free-kick, and the winger fired another set piece narrowly wide on the half-hour mark.
Doyle’s best save of the half arrived on 39 minutes when he got down low to tip away a fierce Stuart Beavon strike. Then, minutes before the break, Pool were handed a boost as Weir committed two deliberate fouls in as many minutes, which were both punished with yellow cards to end his afternoon.
Half-Time: Burton 0 Blackpool 0
Within minutes of the second half starting Blackpool were dealt their own blow as Cullen was forced off injured, meaning he was replaced by Jarrett Rivers. It was the hosts who were still looking the more threatening, but they were finding Doyle in inspired form.
The Irishman was inspired to deny Lucas Akins twice with fine saves, while leaving Duffy frustrated in the meantime by diving across his goal. Pool were needing to weather to storm and were relieved to see Beavon’s daisy-cutter roll wide.
With the visitors under the cosh, Neil McDonald brought David Norris off the bench in place of Aimson, who was on a yellow card. However, the change did little to alter the pattern of play and Burton were reward for their efforts when Duffy exchanged passed with Beavon and curled home a fine strike.
It was turning into a costly afternoon for The Seasiders, who had Robertson forced off next due to knock on his knee, with Emmerson Boyce taking his place and Hayden White moving central.
Blackpool needed to respond and Potts’ header came close, but McLaughlin held on. The goalkeeper was answering all Pool’s questions and used both hands to turn away David Ferguson’s volley.
Not to be outdone, Doyle was next to excel between the sticks, beating away Akins’ header, before McLaughlin caught Jim McAlister’s flick. In the final seconds Doyle denied Naylor, before White cleared from Akins, as Burton moved to the summit.
Full Time: Burton 1 Blackpool 0