Blackpool suffered a narrow defeat in their first match of 2021, losing 2-1 at Bristol Rovers.
Neil Critchley's men created countless opportunities at the Memorial Stadium, but fell behind despite taking an early lead.
The Seasiders took the lead with just eight minutes gone through Gary Madine’s sixth goal of the season. A poor clearance from Bristol Rovers’ Luke Leahy feel straight to Grant Ward on the right-hand-side, who fed in a wonderful ball to Madine in the box. The striker breezed past his man and stabbed the ball home past the goalkeeper to give Blackpool an early lead.
The visitors were impressing in the opening half, and almost made it 2-0 on the half hour mark. A wonderful counter-attacking move caught Bristol Rovers out, with Jerry Yates’ pass to a completely free Keshi Anderson calving Bristol Rovers open.
Anderson reached the byline and lifted a cross over the onrushing goalkeeper, but no one was there to head it home.
The hosts then turned the game on it’s head, scoring two goals in just four minutes. The first came through top scorer Brandon Hanlan, who was teed up well to slot a first time effort past Walker from within the penalty area after a mistake from Dan Ballard.
The second came through Sam Nicholson, who’s first-time volley left Walker rooted to the spot, hitting the top corner with a well-hit strike.
Despite a late flurry of chances, the Seasiders went in behind at the break.
Half-time: Bristol Rovers 2 Blackpool 1
Just 60 seconds after the restart, Bristol Rovers were awarded a penalty for an apparent handball. Sam Walker, who saved a penalty on Tuesday evening, did just that again diving to his right to block Hanlan’s effort, before the defense slid in to clear the ball away before it was bundled over the line.
The hosts almost found the back of the net on 60 minutes, with Luke Leahy clipping the crossbar with a header from a corner kick, but it thankfully bounced off the woodwork and out for a goal kick.
With time running out, Neil Critchley made substitutions bringing on Lubala, Woodburn and Mitchell to try and shake things up.
Despite countless opportunties at goal, including a Bez Lubala effort from six yards out going over the bar, it wasn't meant to be for Blackpool, who left the Memorial Stadium with nothing to show for their efforts.
Full-time: Bristol Rovers 2 Blackpool 1
Team: Walker, Turton, Ekpiteta, Ballard, Garbutt (90’ Husband), Ward (90’ Robson), Dougall, Kemp (79’ Mitchell), Anderson (79’ Lubala), Yates (79’ Woodburn), Madine
Subs Not Used: Sims, Gabriel.