Hartlepool went into this 1976 encounterwith four draws and five defeats from their opening nine games. A win was needed – but Cambridge were defiant despite a red card.

Pools striker John Rowlands wins another powerful header in the air.
Pools striker John Rowlands wins another powerful header in the air.

Sometimes, a game which starts out as an absolute beauty doesn’t quite finish that way.

That’s how it was for Pools against a Cambridge team which fought for almost all of it with ten men.

Bobby Scaife.

Bobby Scaife.

The match was only seven minutes old when former Sunderland player Tom Finney got his marching orders. It led to Pools taking the initiative and it paid off within minutes.

Luckett’s left wing free kick was won in the air by Rowlands and he headed it back for Scott.

He headed it towards Scaife who blasted a great shot home on only 18 minutes.

Things got worse for Cambridge two minutes later when their captain Batson was booked. Yet somehow, the visitors rallied and Biley went close on 23 minutes with a volley which flew past Edgar’s post.

Cambridge were playing with skill and got an equaliser on 29 minutes.

Howard took a throw-in from the right which was hooked into the middle by Biley. Centre half Fallon nipped in with a header which flew past the home keeper Edgar.

The tide had turned and Pools were struggling to cope with Cambridge’s breaks out of defence.

Pools held on until half time but they were behind to a goal on 56 minutes when right winger Tommy Horsfall crossed for the unmarked Biley in the middle. Once again, Edgar was left with no chance of saving the shot.

Things could have got a lot worse when a goal kick from Cambridge ran all the way through to Horsfall, despite Spelman handling it on the way. As Horsfall headed towards goal, the referee blew the game up for the infringement instead of playing the advantage rule.

Instead of it being 3-1, Pools were back in it on 79 minutes when Spelman crossed for Rowlands to send home a powerful header.

It ended 2-2 and yet the end result could have been any one of a number of scorelines that day.

As it was, a 2-2 draw put Pools a point ahead of bottom placed Southport with both teams having played nine matches and Hartlepool on four points.

Cambridge, meanwhile, were going well on 11 points – two behind the leaders Stockport County.

Hartlepool; Edgar, Goad, Luckett, Elliott, Scott, Rowlands, Spelman, Endean, Reed, Veitch. Sub; Bielby.

Cambridge United; Webster, Batson, Baldry, Stringer, Fallon, Howard, Horsfall, Seddon, Biley, Finney, Watson. Sub; Bowker.

Referee; Mr R Horner (Halifax).

Attendance; 1,452.