Michael Appleton’s satisfaction at Lincoln’s fightback to earn a 2-2 draw with Blackpool was tinged with frustration.
The Imps returned to action after more than two weeks without a game due a Covid-19 outbreak in their camp.
Prior to the outbreak, which saw two matches postponed, the Imps had slipped out of automatic promotion contention and even their play-off hopes had begun to look fragile.
Blackpool were one of the sides who capitalised on City’s inactivity and they looked set to inflict another blow to Appleton, taking a deserved 2-0 lead through Ellis Simms and Sullay Kaikai, who struck either side of half-time.
The visitors wasted chances to put the game to bed and Lincoln made them pay with goals from substitute Anthony Scully after 75 minutes and Brennan Johnson six minutes from time.
Appleton was delighted with the spirit his side showed in the face of adversity but disappointed with the manner of Blackpool’s first goal.
“They showed really good spirit. It’s been a tough couple of months and certainly a tough couple of weeks for everybody,” he said.
“I was worried about how we would be condition-wise today. I said I would have to use all my subs and I’ll probably have to do the same again.
“Having said that, no excuses, the first goal has to be better than that. I thought we got let down by the ref (the Imps felt Conor McGrandles was fouled in the build-up). But even when you get let down, you’ve still got to react and think danger and smell danger. We didn’t do that.
“They executed the second goal well. To come back from that was really pleasing.
“The players are happy that they’ve shown enough spirit to come back against a side that are in decent form.
“I’m still a bit frustrated that we allowed them to go into a two-goal lead but later on this evening and tomorrow I’ll feel happy that we’ve shown that sprit and belief to never give up.”
Appleton used all five of his permitted substitutes, making two changes at half-time and another three with just under 20 minutes left with Lincoln still 2-0 down.
One of the players to come on was Scully, who also set up Johnson’s equaliser.
“Some of the subs contributed more than others, but they definitely had a positive impact,” he added.
“That wasn’t always a pass or a shot, but just getting up to players or making a run.”
The draw extended Blackpool’s unbeaten run to 14 games, but that was little consolation to manager Neil Critchley, who admitted the result felt more like a defeat, having been in such a commanding position.
“It does. We’ve been good when we’ve been leading, particularly away from home,” he said.
“We had some chances to go and score the third goal and we didn’t take them. I’m very disappointed to come out with a 2-2 in the end.
“I think it was two moments that we didn’t defend well enough. I never felt our goal was under concerted pressure or massively under threat.
“I wasn’t standing there thinking, ‘They’re going to score in a minute’, we just didn’t defend well enough.
“The game should have been over, we should have been 3-0 up but didn’t take them.
“Overall, I’m not disappointed with the performance, I’m just disappointed with the result.
“We were playing against a good team with good players at the top end of the pitch. They’re likely to create something at some point and we didn’t defend those moment well enough.
“Other than that our goalkeeper (Chris Maxwell) has had very little to do.
“It’s a game we should have got three points from.”