Kurtis Guthrie scores one and creates one in Colchester United’s victory, but is then stretchered off

Colchester's Brennan Dickenson runs at Hartlepool's Kenton Richardson during the first half of today

Colchester's Brennan Dickenson runs at Hartlepool's Kenton Richardson during the first half of today's League Two fixture at the Community Stadium. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Colchester United 2 Hartlepool United 1

Colchester United cemented their position in the League Two play-offs with a home victory over lowly Hartlepool United this afternoon.

After a goalless first half, the U’s took charge when Kurtis Guthrie headed home his 12th goal of the season in the 63rd minute.

Guthrie steamed in to head powerfully home from Richard Brindley’s precision cross from the right flank. It was a clinical finish.

And Guthrie was the creator of the U’s second goal, which arrived courtesy of Chris Porter’s penalty in the 78th minute.

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Guthrie charged onto Cameron James’ ball and was brought down inside the box by Pools left-back, Liam Donnelly.

Up stepped Porter to ram the ensuing penalty into the roof of the net, to chalk up his 10th goal of the campaign.

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Pools pulled a goal back on 82 minutes, thanks to Nathan Thomas’ accurate angled drive, which flew past Sam Walker and into the far corner of the net.

But the U’s held on to stay in the top seven.

The one setback for the U’s was yet another injury, this time to Guthrie, who was stretchered off in the closing minutes.

Guthrie’s injury could yet have repercussions for the rest of the season, especially due to the Essex club’s current long-term injury list.

The U’s threatened first on 11 minutes, and they were unlucky not to score with both Sean Murray and Brenan Dickenson cracking in shots which were blocked by defenders inside a congested six-yard box.

But otherwise, the hosts struggled to get going during the first quarter of the game, often let down by some dreadful passing from the back, which gifted possession to the opposition far too easily.

Dickenson’s perseverance almost led to a goal in the 23rd minute. The U’s left winger charged down an attempted clearance by defender Brad Walker, just before the ball went out of play, and was able to fire in a shot which keeper Joe Fryer did well to smother on his goal-line.

Five minutes later and Chris Porter found the back of the net from Richard Brindley’s low cross, only for the goal to be ruled off for offside against the U’s striker.

Murray was easily the pick of the U’s team in the first period, and he was unlucky to see his 25-yard screamer deflected inches over the bar on 33 minutes.

From the ensuing corner, Elokobi was agonisingly close to bundling the loose ball home at the far post. He was just unable to make contact, and the chance was gone.

But a disappointing first half was really summed up by Pools keeper, Fryer, who completely missed his kick following an extravagant swipe at the ball. It trundled out of play for a corner.

Hartlepool had not really threatened at all in the first half, but they were close to breaking the deadlock within two minutes of the restart, leading scorer Padraig Amond heading over from close-in following Walker’s delivery.

At the other end, Tom Lapslie’s speculative 25-yarder ballooned off a defender’s foot and looped narrowly over the bar, on the hour mark.

But just three minutes later and the U’s were ahead, thanks to Guthrie’s clinical header from Brindley’s excellent cross.

The hosts searched for a quickfire second goal, and Porter was disappointed to head wide from Owen Garvan’s corner in the 67th minute.

Porter also hooked a shot narrowly wide from close range at the near post, following good work by Murray on 72 minutes.

But Porter did finally double the U’s lead, via a 78th minute penalty, before Thomas halved the deficit just four minutes later.

Guthrie was stretchered off with a leg injury, after several minutes treatment on the pitch, just before the finish, which led to seven minutes of stoppage time.

COLCHESTER: Walker, Brindley (sub Wright, 70), James, Elokobi, Briggs, Lapslie, Garvan, Guthrie (sub Pyke, 90+1), Murray, Porter (sub Fosu, 79). Unused subs: Barnes, Vincent-Young, Wynter, Fosu, Edge.

HARTLEPOOL: Fryer, Richardson, Walker, Harrison, Donnelly, Thomas, Woods, Featherstone, Alessandra (sub Hawkins, 79), Oates (sub Rooney, 79), Amond. Unused subs: Smith, Martin, Dudzinski, Hawkes.

Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire)

Attendance: 3,357 (167 away fans)

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