Blues frustrated by lowly Shrewsbury

Southend United 1-1 Shrewsbury Town

Brian Jeeves reporting from Roots Hall Stadium

Turning the clock back to October 29, 2016, and a frustrating afternoon for Phil Brown and the Blues against struggling Shrewsbury Town at Roots Hall Stadium…

SOUTHEND United extended their unbeaten Sky Bet League One sequence to four matches thanks to Stephen McLaughlin’s first-half equaliser but was left frustrated by struggling Shrewsbury Town who fully deserved a share of the spoils from this hugely disappointing encounter at Roots Hall Stadium.

Following a sequence that had seen the Blues take seven points from a possible nine, there was an air optimism amongst the home faithful as they arrived at Roots Hall. Manager, Phil Brown, was forced into one change from the side that had won so convincingly over MK Dons at Stadium MK a week previous, with Marc-Antoine Fortune coming into the attack in place of the injured Nile Ranger.

Meanwhile, Shrewsbury arrived in south-east Essex rooted to the bottom of League One, having recorded only two victories from their fifteen outings. New manager, Paul Hurst, took charge of the Shropshire outfit for the first time and was charged with the difficult task of pulling his new charges away from their perilous position in the drop zone. Former Blues midfielder, Gary Deegan, a notable inclusion in Hurst’s first starting eleven.

Blues almost grabbed an early advantage when both Stephen McLaughlin and Fortune had telling crosses scrambled away, while Shrews goalkeeper, Jayson Leutwiler, held on at the second attempt after Jason Demetriou had tried his luck with a low drive.

Southend believed they should have had a penalty when Fortune appeared to be bundled over by Adam El-Abd. But visitors were to provide Blues with a shock soon after. Skipper El-Add sent a crisp twenty-five yard half volley high beyond keeper, Mary Oxley, to hand Shrewsbury the lead. And the home side’s troubles almost deepened as Ivan Toney’s effort cannoned back off an upright minutes later.

Stunned by the goal, Blues were clearly struggling to recapture their early momentum as Shrewsbury were seemingly absorbed whatever they offered as an attacking threat. However, when Simon Cox expertly sent McLaughlin away, the Irish winger sent an angled drive between Leutwiler’s legs to restore parity, much to the relief of the home crowd who had become uneasily anxious.

Blues were expected to push on after the break but still appeared somewhat sluggish as resolute Shrewsbury offered more than their lowly league position would have suggested. Andy Mangan and Dominic Smith were off target with speculative attempts from distance, while McLaughlin and Ryan Leonard attempted to engineer a way through the visitor’s rearguard as the atmosphere around Roots Hall again became restless and agitated.

Indeed, exchanges had become extremely flat, with Shrewsbury determined to have what they held, while Blues appeared incapable of creating, let alone taking an opportunity. Ryan Leonard’s horribly wayward angled effort seemed to sum up the home sides afternoon as they continued to struggle.

Blues continued to toil fruitlessly. Fortune should have done better, nodding wide from close range after Luke O’Neil had picked him out. Then striker Cox and Shrews man Toney were perhaps lucky to escape with only a yellow card apiece after a skirmish when frustrations reached boiling point, while Demetriou’s late effort was scrambled away as Blues offered a little, but ultimately too late. But that aside, there was very little for any of the 7,321 crowd to get excited about.

The result extended Southend’s unbeaten run to four matches, but this was definitely a case of two points dropped against a side that hasn’t won in eleven attempts.

Southend United now turn their attention to the FA Cup, travelling to The Den on Friday, November 4 to take on Millwall in a first-round tie (7:45pm).

Southend United: Mark Oxley, Ben Coker, Jason Demetriou, Adam Thompson, Anton Ferdinand (Capt), Ryan Leonard, Anthony Wordsworth, Marc-Antoine Fortune (Jason Williams 89’), Simon Cox, Will Atkinson (Jermaine McGlashan 64’), Stephen McLaughlin (Luke O’Neil 79’) Subs not used: Ted Smith (GK), John White, Adam King, Ryan Inniss

Booked: Anton Ferdinand (Foul), Adam Thompson (Encroachment), Simon Cox (Dissent)
Goals: Stephen McLaughlin 39’

Shrewsbury Town: Jayson Leutwiler, Mat Sadler, Ian Black (Jim O’Brien 85’), Abu Ogogo, Ivan Toney, Junior Brown, Dominic Smith, Antoni Sarcevic (Andy Mangan 56’), Gary Deegan, Adan El-Abd (Capt)
Subs not used: Mark Halstead (GK), AJ Leitch-Smith, Moha El Choulay, George Waring, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake

Booked: Gary Deegan (Foul), Ian Black (Encroachment), Jayson Leutwiler (Time wasting), Ivan Toney (Dissent)
Goals: Adam El-Abd 26’

Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Assistants: Kevin Howick and Dave Bushell
Fourth Official: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 7,321 (204 from Shrewsbury)

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]