CULLEN DOES THE BUSI­NESS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Jon Wal­dron

IF THIS is the kind of en­ter­tain­ment these two sides regularly serve up this sea­son, then sup­port­ers of Colch­ester United and Black­pool should be in for a treat.

It was prob­a­bly fit­ting that an open­ing-day game packed with qual­ity, en­deav­our and drama should fin­ish in a draw, af­ter the U’s twice fought back to se­cure a share of the spoils.

Mark Cullen’s first-half dou­ble had put Black­pool in charge at half-time, with Alex Gil­bey’s stun­ning strike sand­wiched in be­tween for Colch­ester.

Dar­ren Am­brose’s goal on his de­but res­cued a point for the U’s, who were much im­proved af­ter half-time fol­low­ing the Seasiders’ im­pres­sive first-half dis­play.

Colch­ester boss Tony Humes said:“We want to be en­ter­tain­ing and we want to play that way but we should be bet­ter and it’s some­thing to work on.

“We should have won it in the end on the bal­ance of the sec­ond half but we could have been out of it in the first-half.

“We’re frus­trated that we didn’t take more of our chances but at the end of the day, we didn’t lose the game.

“The im­por­tant thing is to get a point or three points in the first game of the sea­son to set your base and it could have been worse.

“But the pos­i­tive thing is the re­sult could have been bet­ter, given the sec­ond-half per­for­mance.”

Black­pool’s two-goal hero Cullen was frus­trated his side were un­able to hold onto their lead and start their new life in League One with a win.

He said: “We’re dis­ap­pointed that we didn’t win as we had the lead twice.

“We had chances to score more but it’s a pos­i­tive re­sult and we go again.

“All of the lads put in a great shift – it was a tough game and we were un­der the cosh a bit in the sec­ond-half but I think the fact that we man­aged to dig in and get a point was good.

“It’s al­ways dif­fi­cult com­ing into the first game of the sea­son af­ter what has been a hard pre-sea­son and I think there’s more to come from this team.”

Jack Red­shaw should have given Black­pool an early lead when he missed his kick from five yards with the goal gap­ing but the Seasiders went ahead four min­utes later through Cullen.

Black­pool were only ahead for four min­utes, though, af­ter Gil­bey fired a su­perb shot into the top cor­ner, from the edge of the area.

Chris Porter went close for Colch­ester and Gavin Massey was de­nied by keeper Colin Doyle when through on goal.

But Black­pool re­stored their lead in first-half stop­page time through Cullen, who drilled in his sec­ond of the game through a crowded area.

Colch­ester im­proved af­ter half- time and equalised just be­fore the hour when Am­brose con­verted Massey’s cross from five yards.

Doyle bravely de­nied Massey af­ter that but the U’s had to set­tle for a point, fol­low­ing a thrilling cur­tain-raiser.

PIC­TURES: TGS Photo

HAVE THAT: Colch­ester’s Dar­ren Am­brose ac­knowl­edges his equal­is­ing goal. Inset: Mark Cullen cuts in­side and hits a fierce drive to give Black­pool the lead

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