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Southend United 0-0 Crawley Town
There was altogether more urgency from Southend United, but ultimately the same old failings in front of goal saw another opportunity to claw themselves towards Sky Bet League Two safety disappear as out of sorts Crawley Town left Roots Hall Stadium with a share of the spoils.
A final roll of the dice – Phil Brown’s arrival certainly split opinion, but there seemed to be a newfound optimism as the Blues embarked on a precarious finale to an otherwise forgettable campaign.
“We’ve got a chance, we’ve got an opportunity now – not to put a marker down, I think the marker has been laid – but we’ve got a chance to arrest the situation that we are in,” the 61-year-old enthused.
Blues certainly set out at a refreshingly feverish tempo. Reeco Hackett-Fairchild passed up a glorious opportunity to hand the incoming boss a perfect start, nodding wide from close range after Ricky Holmes had picked him out – Blues almost made to pay seconds later – Ashley Nadesan firing horribly off target after the visitors had raided from the right.
Greg Halford’s trajectory was amiss, former Blues stopper, Glenn Morris able to backpedal and collect his chipped attempt. Meanwhile, Tyler Cordner was in the right place at the right time to head James Tilley’s powerful strike off the line as the sides continued to trade early blows.
Tilley went close again, while Jordan Maguire-Drew’s dead-ball effort was too high – the contest remained frantic and scruffy.
Nathan Ferguson drilled against the foot of an upright, while Elvis Bwomono fired the rebound over the top as Southend began to offer a little more intent after the restart. Soon after, the home side was inquisitive of referee, Charles Breakspear after Hackett-Fairchild appeared to be bundled over – the whistler unmoved by the Blues appeals.
Brandon Goodship and Emile Acquah were thrown into the fray. Meanwhile, Hackett-Fairchild fluffed his lines, allowing Morris to recover and smother after the Portsmouth loanee found himself an opening.
Nadesan drew a superb save from Mark Oxley at his near post as Crawley finally emerged. Brown again looked to his bench – Terrell Egbri and James Olayinka charged with finding a spark for the perturbed hosts.
Olayinka twice scuffed wide as time began to wear thin. This was undoubtedly a better showing from Southend. But without a home win since early January and now goalless at Roots Hall in seven suggests the current crop of players do not hold the solution to the clubs’ problems.
Southend United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, April 17 when they take on Exeter City at St James Park (3pm)
Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, Tyler Cordner, Timothee Dieng (Brandon Goodship 58’), Tom Clifford, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (James Olayinka 78’), Greg Halford (Emile Acquah 67’), Jason Demetriou (Capt), Ricky Holmes (Terrell Egbri 78’), Nathan Ferguson Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Matt Rush, Sam Hart
Booked: Greg Halford (foul), Jason Demetriou (foul), Tom Clifford (foul)
Crawley Town: Glenn Morris, Joe McNerney, Ashley Nadesan (Davide Rodari 90+2’), Archie Davies, Tom Nichols (Capt), Jordan Tunnicliffe, Nicholas Tsaroulla, Jordan Maguire-Drew (Sam Matthews 54’), James Tilley, Jake Hessenthaler (Jack Powell 64’), Josh Wright Subs not used: Stuart Nelson (GK), David Sesay, Rafiq Khaleel, Davide Rodari
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Joseph Stokes and Paul Kelly
Fourth Official: Paul Yates