Williamson levels late for the U’s against Hartlepool United
Ben Williamson fired home a late equaliser for the U's to clinch a 1-1 draw against Hartlepool United in Sky Bet League Two.
Jake Gray’s 71st minute opener looked to have given the visitors the victory, but Williamson, playing in his first match back at the Abbey Stadium since penning a permanent deal with the club, levelled late for Shaun Derry’s side.
The U’s made one change to the side that returned from Kenilworth Road with a point a week earlier, as Karlan Ahearne-Grant made his first start for the club replacing Barry Corr.
The first chance of the match fell the way of the Charlton loanee, who showed electric pace to overlap Simpson before stabbing a shot wide from the left side of the 18 yard box.
The visitors responded promptly with their first opportunity of the match, when Ellis Harrison poked Jake Carroll’s free kick delivery on to the post, before Will Norris brought an end to an almighty scramble by pouncing on the ball.
The U’s goalkeeper continued to impress in his first appearance back at the Abbey Stadium during the opening ten minutes, when the 22-year produced a fine double save to deny both Harrison and Jake Gray in quick succession.
Despite a flurry of early opportunities for Ronnie Moore’s side, the U’s grew into the game and as the first half reached the midway point began dominating for large periods with the ball.
However, a break in play when Lewis Page and Ellis Harrison clashed in a crunching challenge which ended with the latter leaving the field, disrupted the U’s momentum and they were unable to turn possession into attempts on goal.
Norris was sharp into action at the start of the second half, when the keeper darted off his line to save brilliantly with his feet when Gray had been slid through one-on-one.
Looking to bring additional energy to the U’s attack, Shaun Derry introduced Harrison Dunk on 53 minutes with the left midfielder replacing Karlan Ahearne-Grant, before Barry Corr also took to the field on the hour mark.
Berry had a glimpse at goal moments later when he cleverly shifted the ball from his right foot to left, before fizzing a low shot against Hartlepool centre back Jake Carroll, which seemed destined to bulge the net.
However, the visitors took the lead on 71 minutes when Michael Woods passed between the U’s defence for Jake Gray to prod past Norris and into the United goal from ten yards out.
The U’s came close to a quick riposte when Leon Legge’s flicked header into the six yard box found fellow centre back in space, but the U’s captain failed to hit the target from close range.
When Donaldson and Corr also missed late chances to level for the U’s it seemed the visitors would hold on to clinch the win.
However, a superb lofted pass into the Hartlepool area from Leon Legge was controlled excellently by Ben Williamson, who smashed the ball past Carson to register his first goal since signing permanently and equalise in front of the Newmarket Road End.
Cambridge United: Norris, Furlong, Legge, Roberts, Page, Ahearne-Grant (Dunk, 53 mins), Berry, Ledson (Donaldson, 70 mins), Dunne, Simpson (Corr, 62 mins), Williamson
Hartlepool United: Carson, Carroll, Bates, Woods, Oates, Featherstone, Hawkins, Richards, Jackson, Gray, Harrison (Bingham, 34 mins)
Attendance: 5,054 (186 away)
Vindis Man of the Match: Will Norris