Match Report

 

Fri 24 Jun 16

The U's have drawn 1-1 on the opening day at Hartlepool to get themselves up and running in League Two. 

It was a positive start, with Tom Eastman lifting his effort into the top corner in only the fourth minute.

The scores were levelled when Billy Paynter calmly stroked his penalty home on twenty six minutes.

A quieter second half saw Kurtis Guthrie squander the best chance and the game finished with the sides level at 1-1.

It was an explosive start by the U’s, getting in behind Hartlepool in the first seconds without getting a shot in at the end of a good move.

There was more joy down the left for the U’s two minutes later, when Chris Porter capitalised on poor play by Nsala.

Szmodics got on the end of Porter’s pass but his shot was deflected inches wide by a covering defender.

The corner was taken short and when Craig Slater’s cross wasn’t dealt with, Tom Eastman calmly lifted his shot with pace into the top corner to give the U’s an early lead.

Having gone behind, the hosts got into the game but Sam Walker was well protected by Eastman as he blocked a goalbound effort on six minutes.

In the following quarter of an hour, Hartlepool had the better of possession but the U’s were disciplined in their defending.

Hawkins shot wide on ten minutes and then Alessandra hit his effort straight at Walker on sixteen after a decent touch from Nsiala on the floor.

At the other end, another short corner almost caught Hartlepool out again, but the ball was eventually cleared out of their penalty area.

The game was all square on twenty six minutes, with Billy Paynter scoring from the spot.

It looked like Drey Wright was fouled out on the U’s left but the referee overruled his assistant and allowed play to continue.

A Hartlepool forward was then up ended in the box and Paynter sent Walker the wrong way with his spot kick.

Nathan Thomas was running at Richard Brindley at every opportunity and his good work should have seen The Pools go ahead on thirty three minutes.

Fortunately, Padraig Amond skied his effort from Thomas’ pull back and it remained 1-1.

As in the first half, it was the U’s that had the best early chance in the second period, with Slater lifting his shot over on forty eight minutes.

Good play from Lapslie and Brindley set the midfielder up, but the shot flew just above the home crossbar.

Sammie Szmodics than had an even better chance on fifty one minutes, but he pulled his right foot effort wide of the target when well placed.

Hartlepool thought they were going ahead six minutes later, but a superb last ditch block from Lapslie averted the danger from Alessandra.

With just over an hour gone, Denny Johnstone replaced Chris Porter up top and he was immediately into the action.

He met a right free kick from Slater with a downward header but it bounced up and over the bar.

Walker made his first save of the half on sixty six minutes, comfortably taking a long range effort from Featherstone.

Dion Sembie-Ferris came on for Drey Wright three minutes later and like Johnstone, the sub was straight into the action.

He rolled a ball into the path of Guthrie but after a spot on first touch, Guthrie hit a tired shot past the post.

It was the best chance of the game so far, and neither side had a better one in the remaining minutes.

Hartlepool dangerman Thomas volleyed straight at Walker and the U’s sub Sembie-Ferris didn’t connect well with a near post shot late on.

Macauley Bonne replaced Szmodics late on but the U’s couldn’t find a winner, despite the three positives substitutions from new boss John McGreal.

It was a well earned point and on chances, the U’s could count themselves unlucky not to have taken all three.

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