Gary Madine was the penalty hero as Blackpool started the year with a hard-fought 1-0 Championship victory over Hull.
Madine converted a 31st-minute spot-kick after reported Nottingham Forest target and former Tigers loanee Josh Bowler was fouled by Jacob Greaves.
After finishing 2021 with just one win from their previous 10 league outings, victory was a timely tonic for the Tangerines.
It also lifted Neil Critchley’s side above Sheffield United into 12th place while City – back in action for the first time in 14 days after coronavirus issues – remain 19th, four points above the drop zone.
Bowler showed again why clubs are reportedly casting envious glances at the former Everton prospect.
And Daniel Grimshaw’s saves in the first half and then stoppage time at the end of the game also proved pivotal as Blackpool shrugged off their holiday defeats by Huddersfield and Middlesbrough.
For Hull, it was an unhappy return to action after their fixtures with Blackburn and Sheffield United were both called off.
Pool finished nine points behind last season’s third-tier champions but kicked off this latest meeting seven points better off than the visitors.
Bowler forced the game’s opening corner after two minutes, while the lively Keshi Anderson blazed wide shortly after in a bright Blackpool start.
But the visitors nearly took the lead when hesitancy in the home defence ended with Grimshaw saving George Honeyman’s low shot, deflected off Richard Keogh.
Blackpool survived another let-off when Richie Smallwood headed Honeyman’s corner fractionally wide.
But the breakthrough went the hosts’ way in the 31st minute. Bowler reprised his early trickery and was sent tumbling by defender Greaves.
There were few complaints from the Tigers and Madine blasted his spot-kick straight down the middle past Nathan Baxter.
Hull’s response was commendable as twice Keane Lewis-Potter showed why he has been City’s most potent threat this season with efforts that needed interventions from Grimshaw.
The goal certainly brought a more open contest. Madine twice set-up Anderson with delightful passes but his team-mate’s left-footed finishes were tame.
So too was substitute Tyler Smith’s toe poke in first-half stoppage time when he looked poised to score.
The second half rarely came to life but a frantic five minutes of stoppage-time almost saw Hull draw level.
Tom Eaves, a 62nd-minute replacement for Josh Magennis, had already pulled one left-footed effort wide before Grimshaw again came to the rescue.
Three times in 30 seconds he kept out Hull single-handedly, blocking shots from Smith after Honeyman’s ball in and then bravely denying fellow sub Randell Williams at the far post following Lewis-Potter’s deep cross.
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