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Heroic U's Grab Point

5 March 2013

Ten men U's stand strong for draw.

The U’s made just the one change to the starting eleven that had beaten Stevenage a few days before, with Clinton Morrison coming in for Freddie Sears in the hole behind Jabo Ibehre.

There were heroes on and off the pitch and those fans that made the long trip north will be delighted with what they saw in the second half.

But the remaining players - plus substitutes - stood strong to keep Pools at bay and earn what could be an absolutely crucial point come the end of the season in the fight for survival.

The U's were reduced to ten men just before half time as Jabo Ibehre saw red for a foul on the halfway line and the expected bombardment in the second half materialised.

U's boss Joe Dunne has admitted that he's not a fan of draws - but he would have loved the point that his side picked up in a heroic second half display at Victoria Park on Tuesday night.

The visitors started brightly and Massey was first to see sight of goal, blazing over on the angle as he hunted down a rebound in the box.

Next up, Ibehre tried to hook a ball towards goal as he fell to the ground after a melee in the box, but his effort was easily fielded by Flinders in the Pools goal.

The home side looked nervous, but had their own first chance on seven minutes, as Franks skipped down the left past Wilson and sent over a cross that Poole hooked wide of the far post.

That encouraged the Pools, who were livelier after that chance, but the U’s back line kept them at bay as the fifteen minute mark came to pass.

Indeed, whilst they were having more of the ball, Franks’ run across the U’s back line and a shot over from distance by the winger was symptomatic of the U’s defensive discipline in that first quarter of the game.

The winger fired another shot wide on 25 minutes, not long after Baldwin had had an effort from distance well fielded by Walker.

Chances were hard to come by, in general, as the half entered its final ten minutes. And the game got a whole lot tougher for the U’s just before the break as Ibehre saw red for a foul on the halfway line.

The U’s players were left frustrated with what they saw as a harsh decision. The U’s striker had jumped in with the outside of his right foot to try and block the ball back to his fellow defenders by Austin and, from initial viewings, it was hard to tell how much he’d caught his opponent.

The U’s were not to be quelled though and started the second half well. Porter had a half volley deflected just wide of goal as they looked to get the first goal of the game.

Garmston had a slip at the other end that allowed Poole to get a shot off, but his effort dipped over the bar just too late for the home side’s liking.

The U’s had got themselves a foothold in the game, though, and had to defend manfully ten minutes into the second half as Wyke and Garmston tussled for the ball just six yards out.

The U’s were sitting in to protect Walker, as it looked like a long half ahead for Dunne’s men. They introduced Ladapo as a willing runner in place of Morrison on 65 minutes.

The Pools kept piling on the pressure and a Poole header caught the toe of Eastman, but Walker was aware enough to collect the ball at his near post.

The home side hit the bar midway through the second half, Franks striking from distance but Walker getting a glove on it to turn it onto the woodwork with a fine save.

The play was all around the U’s box, and they made their second change with fifteen to go – Porter made way and Thompson came on to further provide defensive protection.

Getting out of their half was a relief to the visitors, but they were doing a great job of keeping Pools at bay.

They introduced White for Clifford for the last ten minutes, no doubt in response to Pools introducing Howard for that same time period.

And that was it as the U's recorded their third successive clean sheet to take a golden point back to north Essex.

There was a chance midway through that period for Luscombe, who broke into the box and got his shot off, but Walker stood strong to see off the midfielder's effort.

There were to be four minutes of additional time to be played at Victoria Park, which the U's knew they had to see out.

The clock was winding down, and the U’s had the ball in the Pools half as the ninetieth minute approached.

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