MATCH REPORT: Blackpool 1-1 Colchester

Matt handed Pool an early lead

Matt handed Pool an early lead

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Blackpool were left to rue a host of missed chances in their 1-1 draw against fellow play-off hopefuls Colchester United.

It means the Seasiders, who remain winless in the league in 2017, lost further ground on the top seven although it wasn’t for the want of trying.

Things started promisingly when Jamille Matt handed them an early lead, only for Kurtis Guthrie to be gifted an equaliser in what was a frantic first half full of chances.

By comparison, the second period was far more tame as both sides struggled to create any clear-cut chances of note, meaning Blackpool had to settle for a point which does little for their league position.

It also means they have yet to pick up a win at Bloomfield Road in the league since the 4-1 thrashing of Newport County at the end of November.

Keeping faith with the 3-5-2 formation, with Andy Taylor and Jim McAlister the two wing backs, Blackpool looked to immediately take the game to their opponents.

Tom Aldred saw an early half-chance to get a header on goal but he could only nod straight at the Colchester ‘keeper after getting on the end of Will Aimson’s floated free kick from the halfway line.

But the Seasiders didn’t have to wait long to take an all-important lead and it came via Jamille Matt, who tapped home from close range from a teasing cross from his strike partner Nathan Delfouneso.

The goal came after some delightful footwork in the middle of the park by new recruit Jordan Flores, who unleashed Delfouneso down the right after a superb cross-field ball having found his way past two Colchester players inside the centre circle.

Matt, finding the back of the net for the first time in nine games, almost made it two when he managed to get off a volley after a smart turn, but U’s shot stopper Sam Walker was there to deny him from close range.

The visitors immediately broke and almost found a leveller when Matthew Briggs tried his luck from range, only to be denied by a superb one-handed save from Sam Slocombe to stop the ball flying into the top corner.

But the U’s weren’t behind for long as they capitalised on some woeful defending from the resulting corner, with Kurtis Guthrie tapping home after Blackpool had failed to clear their lines on at least three occasions.

It was a woeful goal to concede following what was some hesitant defending inside the Pool’s 18-yard box.

But the Seasiders continued to look a threat going the other way, and Brad Potts almost marked his comeback with a goal only to see his effort from the edge of the box deflect just past the Colchester post.

The men in tangerine continued to take the game to Colchester, who were happy to sit back, with Brad Potts firing over following some superb build-up play involving Jamille Matt and Jim McAlister.

McAlister seemed to thrive in his new role at wing back, with Kelvin Mellor out through suspension, and he tried his luck from range only to shoot straight at Walker after cutting inside his man.

Colchester didn’t show a great deal of ambition going forward but they weren’t without their opportunities, with Slocombe forced to scramble across his goal to keep out a Matthew Briggs header.

But they were almost gifted the lead as Craig Slater looked to capitalise on another defensive howler as Jordan Flores and Andy Taylor collided after challenging for the same ball, but his volley looped narrowly wide of the post.

Chances continued to come and go for both sides towards the end of the first half, as Brad Potts blazed over the bar after working his way into the Colchester box, in what was another priceless opportunity to add to the scoreline.

But Blackpool were given a massive let off in the final action of the opening period, as more hesitant defending saw Colchester hit the woodwork twice in the space of just 10 seconds.

Sam Slocombe produced a fine point back save to push George Elokobi’s header against the bar, with the ball dropping to Kurtis Guthrie who could only head against the woodwork from virtually on the goalline.

It was a massive escape for Gary Bowyer’s men, whose defenders looked like complete strangers every time the ball entered the Blackpool box.

Blackpool continued to unsettle Colchester going forward and almost capitalised on a mistake by ‘keeper Walker, who fumbled a Delfouneso cross with the ball falling kindly for half-time substitute Colin Daniel who was unable to get a shot away.

Delfouneso himself had a great chance to get Blackpool’s second as the home side continued their onslaught on the Colchester goal, but he could only slash wide of goal following Flores’ cross in from the left.

The relentless end-to-end nature of the first half subsided in the second period, although Blackpool continued to press and went close through Daniel who blazed over after turning smartly in the box.

While Pool showed great promise in attack it was their finishing which let them down, which was evident once again as defender Tom Aldred nodded wide of the post when presented with a free header at the back post only seven or eight yards from goal.

Neil Danns, returning for his second loan spell with the club 14 years after his first, looked to break forward down the middle and with Jamille Matt in space to the left of him, decided to go alone but found himself crowded out by the backtracking Colchester defence.

There was drama in injury time after Colchester substitute Sean Murray was given a straight head for a late and nasty challenge on Jim McAlister, who was forced to be stretchered off.

It meant the U's were forced to end the game with nine men after Tom Eastman was forced off through injury after three subs had already been made.

But Pool were unable to take advantage as the visitors held on for a point.

Blackpool: Slocombe, McAlister (Nolan), Aimson, Aldred, Robertson, Taylor, Flores, Danns, Potts (Daniel), Delfouneso, Matt

Subs not used: Lyness, Payne, Osayi-Samuel, Odelusi, Cullen

Colchester: Walker, Brindley (Vincent-Young), Briggs, Eastman, Kent, Elokobi, Garvan, Lapslie, Slater (Murray), Porter, Guthrie (Johnstone)

Subs not used: Brill, Doyley, Pyke, Fosu

Referee: Seb Stockbridge

Attendance: 2,772 (198 Colchester)