Lincoln City 1-0 Blackpool: Pressure mounts on Simon Grayson as Seasiders slip to another defeat
Blackpool’s winter slump continued as their winless run stretched to eight games with a narrow defeat at Lincoln City.
Tyreece John-Jules’ second-half strike was the difference between the two sides in a tight encounter at Sincil Bank.
But it was the Imps who came out on top, condemning Simon Grayson’s men to their fourth league defeat from their last five games.
It could have been even worse for the Seasiders as Mark Howard made a penalty save from Tyler Walker during the opening period.
The result leaves Pool languishing in the bottom half of the table ahead of next week’s home encounter against Tranmere Rovers.
Grayson made two changes to his side from Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat to Reading.
In came Marc Bola for his second Pool debut and Grant Ward for his first start in tangerine colours.
James Husband and Matty Virtue were the two to make way, both dropping down to the bench.
New arrival Gary Madine was also named among the substitutes but there was no place for Connor Ronan, who wasn’t registered
Sullay Kaikai returned to the squad having recently been given an injection for an issue with his abductor, but Ryan Edwards missed out again with an ankle problem.
The Seasiders made a bright start to proceedings, Nathan Delfouneso heading wide of goal inside the first 60 seconds from Liam Feeney’s right-wing cross.
After an even start, Delfouneso came inches away from breaking the deadlock when he hit the post on nine minutes.
The forward made a dangerous near-post run to meet Feeney’s cross, glancing a header onto the inside of the woodwork.
At the other end, former Seasider Neal Eardley cut inside before blazing a rising shot over Mark Howard’s crossbar.
With 20 minutes on the clock, the home side were gifted the opportunity to take the lead when they were awarded a disputed penalty.
Jay Spearing was the man to be penalised despite appearing to win the ball ahead of Max Melbourne, who had rushed into the box after Feeney had been caught out of position.
Fifteen-goal striker Tyler Walker was the man tasked with the spot kick responsibilities but his low effort into the corner was superbly tipped away from goal by Mark Howard.
Despite the save, Spearing continued to remonstrate with the officials in the aftermath having claimed to have won the ball ahead of the Lincoln defender.
Pool came under the cosh before the interval, Tyreece John-Jules coming close with a couple of efforts - the second of which was superbly palmed away by Howard.
They did have penalty appeals of their own waved away shortly afterwards, the referee only awarding Pool a corner despite Eardley appearing to haul Gnanduillet to the ground.
Pool were given a let-off at the start of the second half when Curtis Tilt was awarded a generous-looking free-kick inside his own box having stumbled on the ball under intense pressure from John-Jules.
It was an otherwise quiet start to the second half, although John-Jules did almost find himself unmarked in front of goal only for Harry Anderson’s pass to be overhit.
With the hosts starting to get on top, Grayson acted swiftly by making a double change on the hour mark.
On came Gary Madine for his second Pool debut, in place of Gnanduillet, while Joe Nuttall replaced Feeney.
But just four minutes later, Pool found themselves behind.
It was an unfortunate goal to concede, with Ben Heneghan’s attempted clearance smashing straight into teammate Spearing.
The ball ricocheted straight to the feet of Walker, who had the simple task of slipping in strike partner John-Jules who found the bottom corner with a smart finish.
To Pool’s credit, they rallied and almost levelled just three minutes later, Tilt seeing a header cleared off the goalline from a corner.
They probably ought to have conceded a second 13 minutes from though, when Walker cut inside his man only to slash an effort wide of the far corner.
Pool did produce some late pressure but their play started to become increasingly desperate, with plenty of long balls played up to Madine and Nuttall.
That route almost paid dividends two minutes from time when Vickers spilled the ball straight up to Nuttall inside the six-yard box only for the striker to be denied from point-blank range - only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside.
That turned out to be Pool’s last action of the game, leaving the frustrated away fans to vent their anger at the final whistle as they witnessed their side slip to another disappointing defeat.
Lincoln: Vickers, Eardley, Bolger, Shackell, Melbourne, Morrell, Grant, Edun, Anderson, John-Hules, Walker
Subs not used: Smith, Lewis, Coventry, Hesketh, Chapman, Elbouzedi, Payne
Blackpool: Howard, Turton, Heneghan, Tilt, Feeney (Nuttall), Bola, Spearing, Guy, Ward (Kaikai), Delfouneso, Gnanduillet (Madine)
Subs not used: Sims, Thorniley, Husband, Virtue
Referee: Ollie Yates
Attendance: 8,929 (741 Blackpool)