Ward praises Henderson after penalty winner

COLCHESTER United boss John Ward praised the nerve of match winner Ian Henderson after he converted a controversial stoppage time penalty against Hartlepool United.

Visiting boss Mick Wadsworth, an unpopular figure in Essex following his short spell as U’s boss over a decade ago, was left seething at the award of the late spot-kick.

Hartlepool had looked to have snatched a draw when Evan Horwood curled in a fine free-kick two minutes from time after two goals in three second half minutes from Andy Bond and Kayode Odejayi had overturned Paul Murray’s first half opener.

When Odejayi looked to burst past Paul Hartley in the closing moments though, referee Oliver Langford blew for a handball by the visiting defender.

With the incident close to the edge of the box and a thick fog descending, it was unclear whether he had given a penalty or free-kick as he went over to consult with his linesman.

Hartlepool players surrounded the two officials as they spoke and, after a lengthy delay, the spot-kick was given.

With regular penalty takers David Mooney and Anthony Wordsworth not on the pitch, Ian Henderson took on the duties and smashed an excellent spot kick home – despite keeper Jake Kean diving the right way.

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Wadsworth ran down the tunnel to watch a replay of the incident at the final whistle and emerged with the claim that the handball has been ‘one metre’ outside the box.

“It happens over the course of 46 league games,” said Ward, speaking before he’d seen a replay of the incident himself.

“We take what comes our way though.

“I can’t judge whether it was in the box or not, the linesman and referee had a better view than me.

“What I do know is that Ian Henderson has shown great nerve to score it. He wanted it as soon as it was given and fair play to him after he scored three goals for the reserves in midweek.”

He added: This wasn’t our best performance by any means, but today was all about showing a lot of heart, a lot of endeavour and a lot of spirit.”

Henderson’s penalty sealed a third successive come-from-behind home win for the U’s in the league following victories over Notts County and Leyton Orient.

The win lifts them back into third place in the League One table ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Brentford to The Weston Homes Community Stadium.

– For more reaction, see Monday’s EADT.

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