Shayne Lavery got 2023 off to a goalscoring start when he netted in Blackpool’s 1-1 draw at home to an improving Sunderland outfit at Bloomfield Road on New Year’s Day.
The Northern Ireland striker, whose goal on 21 minutes was only his second of the campaign, said: “Sunderland are a very good side. They should be up there come the end of the season. They've been in great form as well, so we really had to dig in that second half and a point is probably a fair result in the end.
“For my goal I looked across and no-one was there for the cutback so I just waited, and the keeper sat down, and I tried to find the corner and thankfully it went in.”
The Black Cats, who had both Daniel Ballard and Trai Hume in their starting line-up with Corry Evans on the bench, scored midway through the second period when Hume’s header set up Ross Stewart for the equaliser.
Elsewhere in the Championship, Paddy McNair was a late substitute in Middlesbrough's 3-1 victory at Birmingham, while Josh Magennis also made a return to the Wigan Athletic squad, playing the final 15 minutes of their 4-1 home defeat to his former club Hull City.
There were starting roles for Rotherham United duo Conor Washington and Shane Ferguson and also for Gavin Whyte (Cardiff City), Craig Cathcart (Watford), Jordan Thompson (Stoke City) and Preston North End’s Ali McCann.
In the Premiership Jamal Lewis was an unused substitute in Newcastle United’s scoreless draw at home to Leeds United and Under-21 international Isaac Price also remained on the bench as Everton picked up a point in their 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
On the goalscoring front Dion Charles was on target from the penalty spot in Bolton Wanderers' 3-0 success at Barnsley to take his tally for the season to 11, while former Northern Ireland striker Billy McKay now has 11 goals this term following his hat-trick for Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the 6-1 win at home to Cove Rangers.
U21 international Chris Conn-Clarke, who is on loan at National League outfit Altrincham from Fleetwood Town, found the net for the third successive game in a 2-2 stalemate against FC Halifax to stretch the Lancashire side's unbeaten run to eight matches in all competitions.
Meanwhile in the Scottish Premiership, on-loan winger Jordan Jones was a second half substitute in Kilmarnock’s goalless draw at home to St Mirren who had Trevor Carson between the sticks. Michael Smith was in the Hearts team which came out tops in the Edinburgh derby as they put three past Hibs without reply.