Kurtis Guthrie on target as Colchester United earn a point at Blackpool, but Sean Murray sees red
- Credit: Richard Blaxall / Colchester Uni
Blackpool 1 Colchester United 1
Kurtis Guthrie celebrated his 10th goal of the season as Colchester United earned a good point at Blackpool this afternoon.
Both of the opening goals, for either side, were soft ones to concede.
Nathan Delfouneso should never really have been unable to get his shot away, from the right-edge of the penalty area, to give Blackpool a 12th minute lead.
But he was given sufficient room by George Elokobi, and although Delfouneso’s cross-cum-shot lacked any power or conviction, it still managed to sneak past Sam Walker and over the goal-line.
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Jamille Matt was in close attendance, but it did not look like he got a touch.
The U’s equaliser, just six minutes later, was equally scrappy.
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The Seasiders failed to deal with Owen Garvan’s corner, and both Chris Porter and Elokobi tried to scramble the ball home from close-in, before Guthrie obliged by slotting home the rebound.
Although there were no more goals, there were numerous good chances for both sides, the U’s coming closest to a winner when Guthrie’s close-range header hit the bar on the strike of half-time.
The visitors finished the match with just nine men on the field. Tom Eastman limped off injured, with all three substitutions used, while debutant Sean Murray was given a straight red card for a poor challenge on Jim McAlister deep in stoppage time.
U’s boss John McGreal made two changes to the side which saw their nine-game unbeaten run ended by a 3-0 defeat at Exeter City a fortnight ago.
Garvan made a quicker-than-expected return from a knee injury, and so replaced Drey Wright in midfield. Wright is out for four to six week following a hernia operation.
Meanwhile, Matt Briggs came in for his first appearance of the season, following a long-term knee problem, due to left wing-back Brennan Dickenson’s absence through injury.
The three players who arrived earlier this week, before the transfer window close – keeper Dean Brill, midfielder Murray and striker Rekeil Pyke – were all named on the substitutes’ bench.
Former U’s star midfielder, Neil Danns, a member of the Essex club’s promotion squad of 2005-06, was in the starting line-up for Blackpool following his loan switch from Bury.
It was a nondescript first 10 minutes, with neither side stamping their authority on the game as the sun began to disappear behind the main-stand.
But the U’s were rocked by conceding a soft opener to Delfouneso, after just 12 minutes, his mis-hit effort trundling over the line with team-mate Matt trying to help it on its way.
And Delfouneso, encouraged by his early joy, tried his luck with ironically a far-better struck shot on 14 minutes, which Walker managed to pluck out of the air, under his own bar.
Blackpool’s other striker, Matt, nearly scored himself in the 16th minute. He benefited from Danns’ delivery into the danger zone, but could only direct his shot straight at keeper Walker.
However, the visitors weathered the storm and they were level, out of the blue, via Guthrie’s 10th goal of the season in the 18th minute.
Keeper Slocombe did well to prevent Briggs’ thunderous 20-yarder from flying into his net, but the U’s scored from the ensuring corner with Guthrie tucking home from close-in.
The game had burst into life, and Porter, who scored a brace in the U’s 3-2 home win over Blackpool from last September, was close to finding the net with a deft volley from close range which Slocombe was in the right place to catch.
Just before the half-hour mark, Seasiders’ attacking midfielder Brad Potts cracked in a long-range shot that took a wicked deflection on its way past Walker’s far post for a corner.
Walker had several saves to make during the first half, and he was in the action again to smother a fierce 20-yarder from Jim McAlister in the 34th minute.
At the other end, a long-range half-volley from Craig Slater whistled only a foot wide of the far upright.
In an entertaining end to the first period, Potts blasted over from an excellent position for Blackpool in the 43rd minute, while the U’s were denied by the woodwork.
Again the hosts failed to cope with Garvan’s corner. Elokobi’s shot was superbly blocked by keeper Slocombe, at point blank range, and the follow-up header from Guthrie cannoned off the bar, from a matter of a few feet out.
Blackpool started the second-half in the ascendancy.
Walker spilled a cross, under heavy pressure from Matt, but half-time substitute Colin Daniel could not hook home the loose ball from a great position.
On 50 minutes, Delfouneso then found the side-netting with a sweet volley at the near post – many of the home fans initially thought that the ball had ended up in the back of the net.
Home defender Tom Aldred very nearly scored against his former club in the 75th minute, only to send a free header wide of the far post from a corner.
And Murray, on as a substitute to make his U’s debut, sent a crisp volley flying wide of target on 80 minutes.
The U’s played the final few minutes with nine men, firstly due to Tom Eastman picking up an injury with all three substitutions used, and then Murray being sent off for a rash challenge on McAlister.
BLACKPOOL: Slocombe, Aimson, Aldred, Robertson, Taylor, Danns, McAlister (sub Nolan, 90+6), Potts (sub Daniel, 46) Flores, Matt, Delfouneso. Unused subs: Lyness, Cullen, Osayi-Samuel, Payne, Odelusi.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, Kent, Elokobi, Brindley (sub Vincent-Young, 81), Lapslie, Garvan, Briggs, Slater (sub Murray, 65), Guthrie (sub Johnstone, 83), Porter. Unused subs: Brill, Pyke, Doyley, Fosu.
Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne)