CULLEN DOES THE BUSINESS
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.
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