MATCH REPORT: Cambridge 0-0 Blackpool

Slocombe makes the crucial penalty save.
Slocombe makes the crucial penalty save.
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Sam Slocombe was Blackpool’s hero as his penalty save helped his side secure a 0-0 draw away at Cambridge.

Pool’s shot stopper produced his third penalty save of the season to deny Cambridge’s Luke Berry just 14 minutes from time.

It was a controversial decision, with Tom Aldred harshly shown a red card after being adjudged to have brought down Conor Newton in the box.

But the Seasiders held firm with ten men to secure a priceless away point against their in-form counterparts, who are now unbeaten in eight games in the league.

The Seasiders started the game in the 3-5-2 system that proved so effective against Barnsley last week.

But while it took the Tykes by surprise in their FA Cup tie, the in-form U’s knew what to expect and had some early joy by pressing high up the pitch and allowing Pool no time on the ball.

Former Pool loanee Uche Ikpeazu proved a thorn in their side from the very first whistle, bullying the backline and not giving them a moment’s rest.

The hosts came firing out of the blocks and had the first clear opportunity of the game and it was a crucial one

Defender Leon Legge saw his header come back off the foot of the post following a deep corner after he had been left unmarked inside the Pool area.

It was a real let off for Gary Bowyer’s men who had made a sluggish start to proceedings.

Despite their narrow defeat to Leeds on Monday, the home side were brimming with confidence as they unsettled Blackpool with their crisp one-touch football and smart movement.

This led to the natives appealing for an early penalty when Piero Mingoia was brought down in the box, but Jim McAlister was correctly adjudged to have won the ball.

The impressive Ikpeazu cleverly tagged himself to Will Aimson, who struggled to get to grips with his physical play.

With around half an hour on the clock, the 21-year-old had a deflected effort which almost fell kindly to George Maris, but Pool desperately managed to clear.

For all of the hosts’ good play, it was the Seasiders who came inches away from taking the lead when U’s ‘keeper Will Norris was forced into making a point blank save to deny Mark Cullen.

The striker had managed to get something on Brad Potts’ inadvertent cross only for Norris to pull off a superb reflex save, with Cullen then prodding over when the ball instantly rebounded to him.

The visitors rallied towards the end of the first period as they began to see more possession in the opposition third, but Cambridge were rarely seriously threatened.

In fact the last action of the first half saw another chance come Cambridge’s way, with Luke Berry getting himself onto the end of a hopeful cross only to fire straight at Slocombe in the Blackpool goal.

You would imagine the Blackpool players were given a bit of a rollocking during the half-time break, and if they did it certainly worked.

Pool came out on the front foot and had an early chance, with the ball dropping to Kyle Vassell on the edge of the box only for the striker to see his drilled shot, which looked destined for the bottom corner, blocked.

The visitors looked content to play out from the back but they were nearly caught out by their overplaying, as Cambridge leaped on Jim McAlister’s poor pass with Luke Berry finding Ikpeazu, but he was unable to control as he looked to get in on goal.

The game began to open up in the early stages of the second period and the Seasiders were almost gifted the lead in unusual circumstances. Left back Andy Taylor volleyed in a looping cross that caused Will Norris problems, but the ‘U’s ‘keeper just about managed to keep it out.

The hosts had a chance to break clear when Berry was unleashed by Ikpeazu, but Brad Potts did well to race back and deny him a shot at goal.

Bowyer’s side continued to step it up, causing the natives to become restless.

But the game’s key moment came with just 14 minutes left on the clock, when Tom Aldred was sent off for tugging Conor Newton as he bore down on goal.

There seemed to be little to no contact but the referee pointed straight to the spot, but Slocombe stood firm to deny Luke Berry as he looked to slot it down the middle.

The Seasiders had to show real grit to hold on in the final stages but they did so, to secure their fourth clean sheet in a row on the road.

The closest the U's came to a late winner was through Berry's free kick in the second minute of added time, but Slocombe saved well to earn his side a vital point.

Cambridge: Norris, Taylor (Adams), Legge, Roberts, Carroll, Mingoia, Dunne, Clark (Newton), Berry, Maris (Williamson), Ikpeazu

Subs not used: Gregory, Pigott, Lewis

Blackpool: Slocombe, Mellor, Aldred, Aimson, Robertson, Taylor, McAlister, Payne, Potts (Philliskirk), Vassell (Matt), Cullen (Osayi-Samuel)

Subs not used: Lyness, Pugh, Yeates, Gnanduillet

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attendance: 4,248 (328)