Report: Colchester United 2 Blackpool 2Neil McDonald was forced to settle for a point in his first game in charge of Blackpool, as Colchester United twice came from behind on the opening day.
Mark Cullen took his fine pre-season form into the league and his brace had Pool on course for three points to open the League One campaign.
The striker’s first, a tap-in from close range, was cancelled out by Alex Gilbey, before an individual effort from Cullen put the visitors back on track.
It wasn’t to be however, as Darren Ambrose fired home another equaliser after the break to ensure it finished all square in the Essex sun.
At a sun-bathed Weston Homes Community Stadium the hosts threatened first, but George Moncur’s effort forced Colin Doyle into nothing more than an elementary save.
In fact it was The Seasiders who settled the quicker, and they were almost rewarded when Jack Redshaw jinxed past a host of challenges, exchanged passes with Bright Osayi-Samuel, but prodded wide of the post.
At the other end defender Alex Wynter saw a header deflected wide, before Redshaw squandered a golden opportunity to open the scoring. Emmerson Boyce sent Henry Cameron free down the right, and the winger’s cross was on a plate for Redshaw, who miscued with the goal gaping.
It meant the honours were left to his strike partner Cullen to give Blackpool the lead. Electric pace and trickery from Osayi-Samuel allowed him to fire a low cross perfect for Cullen to tap home.
The goal was no more than the visitors deserved, and they remained in the lead after Doyle got down low to keep out Gavin Massey’s strike.
However the hosts did get an equaliser moments later and it was in spectacular fashion. A fine, long-range effort from Gilbey flew past Doyle into the top corner, making the most of Chris Porter’s knock-down.
A minute before the break The Us should have found themselves ahead, Massey sprang the Pool offside trap but was thwarted by the feet of Doyle, who was off his line quickly.
Instead Blackpool took the initiative and put themselves back in the driving seat on the stroke of half time. It came relatively out of the blue as well, as Cullen picked up the ball wide left, cut inside and fired a low effort beyond former Seasider Elliot Parish.
Half Time: Colchester United 1 Blackpool 2
Pressure from the hosts immediately followed the break, but Doyle was happy to watch Joe Edward’s shot trickle wide of his goal. Jose Cubero then replaced Cameron for Pool.
However instantly after the substitution United restored parity. Massey’s drilled cross found Ambrose all alone at the back post and the midfielder took the opportunity to slam home.
As for Pool, Cullen then set up Jim McAlister, who saw his powerful effort kept out by some desperate home defending. McDonald was forced into his second change of the afternoon when Osayi-Samuel limped off and was replaced by Kwame Thomas.
Doyle was impressing between the sticks and denied Moncur and Massey, but those crucial saves would be the stopper’s final contribution. Injured in denying Massey, Kyle Letheren replaced Doyle for the final 16 minutes.
As seven minutes of added time were announced Moncur went close for the hosts but there would be no further action, as it ended 2-2 in Essex.
Full Time: Colchester United 2 Blackpool 2