Hartlepool United 2 (Kemp 43, Dodds 45+3) Sutton United 2(Ajiboye 18, Angol 31)
Having looked in command and on the way to three points after half an hour, Sutton were in the end happy to return south with a point after a mad spell at the end of the first half saw captain Craig Eastmond sent off for two yellow cards in the space of three minutes, and Hartlepool then score twice to cancel out the lead that U's had taken in a first half hour of total domination. When the half time whistle went Hartlepool supporters could have been forgiven for expecting their side to go on and grab three valuable points in their battle to pull away from the foot of the table, but Sutton regrouped for the second half and although Jack Rose had to make three decent saves there were chances at the other end as well, Angol coming close to marking his first Sutton start with a second goal.
Sutton were on the front foot from the start and should have been ahead inside the first minute when Craig Eastmond's low cross evaded Angol but fell to Ali Smith in front of an open goal but he contrived to hit the post and then scrambled the rebound wide. It set the pattern for the first half hour, and although U's lost Will Randall inside the first fifteen minutes following a heavy challenge for which Ollie Finney was booked, it wasn't long before the breakthrough came. Eastmond cut out a clearance and immediately gave Angol the chance to find Sam Hart on the left, and the full back who was startying in place of the injured Rob Milsom sent in a fine cross that was volleyed in at the far post by Ajiboye.
As U's continued to dominate Angol's shot was deflected over by Edon Pruti, and Smith was then sent clear by Ajiboye but was again unable to find the net, Jakob Stolarczyk saving his first shot and the follow up. Just after the half hour, though, Ajiboye again created a chance, this time putting Angol through the middle and with Hartlepool looking for an offside flag Angol neatly lifted the ball over Stolarczyk.
More could have followed, substitute Harry Beautyman shooting straight at Stolarczyk from Omar Bugiel's cross and Angol fizzing an effort just too high, and the raucous home support had just about been silenced when Eastmond, booked three minutes earlier for a foul to prevent Dan Kemp breaking away, slid in on the same player and left referee Andy Haines with no option but to produce a second yellow, Eastmond slightly unfortunate in slipping as he went in to the challenge but able to have no complaints.
The red card gave Hartlepool their first encouragement of the afternoon, and within three minutes two fouls by Bugiel in quick succession led to Kemp curling a superb free kick high to Rose's left to reduce the arrears. The mood now completely changed, the home side had completed the comeback before the interval as Dan Dodds collected a headed clearance from Hart and took a touch before thundering a volley beyond Rose.
U's were pleased to hear the half time whistle, but the second half started as the first had finished, with Rose having to block a Connor Jennings shot with his legs in slightly unorthodox fashion. U's rode out the early pressure, though, and Angol ran on to a through ball from Smith and saw his shot blocked by the oncoming Stolarczyk (above)
With the crowd behind them and with the extra player the home side were always a threat but Sutton defended well as the game went on, the one major scare coming when Joe Kizzi was booked for fouling Josh Umerah on the edge of the penalty area, giving Kemp another chance to show his free kick prowess but Rose this time equal to the effort with a fine save to his left. The keeper also had to make a smart stop in stoppage time to prevent Matty Dolan repeating his injury time winner for Newport last season, but it was far from one way traffic and Beautyman found himself in on the left of the penalty area but saw his shot saved as U's had to settle for a point.
Sutton: J Rose, J Kizzi, S Hart, C Eastmond, B Goodliffe, D Ajiboye, E Boldewijn, A Smith, O Bugiel(sub K Kouassi 75), L Angol (sub D Wilson 85), W Randall(sub H Beautyman 14). Subs n/u B House, C Rowe, L Gambin, M Dennis. Booked: Eastmond, Bugiel, Kizzi. Sent Off: Eastmond (second yellow card).
Hartlepool: J Stolarczyk, J Sterry (sub T Foran 60), D Ferguson, D Dodds, E Pruti, M Dolan, D Kemp, N Featherstone (T Trusty 77), J Umerah, O Finney(sub J Grey 69) C Jennings(sub B Kiernan 77). Subs n/u B Killip, E Murray, M Sylla. Booked: Finney, Ferguson.
Referee: Andy Haines
Attendance: 4,385(98 away)