Southend United 0-0 Stevenage
Southend United failed to find the net for the twentieth time this season as the prospect of non-league football edged ever-closer to the relegation-haunted Essex club.
Blues went into the game next to bottom in the table, without a win or a goal in four matches and appearing to be very much in the last chance saloon.
Beleaguered boss, Mark Molesley, came under heavy fire from the fans following the Blues midweek defeat to Tranmere Rovers. Nevertheless, the former Weymouth chief tried to remain positive in what is possibly the biggest crisis in the clubs’ 115-year history: “I like to think that we haven’t been too far away, but maybe we haven’t had the points to show for our hard work on a few of the games lately,” he explained.
But with twelve games of another torrid campaign remaining, Southend’s position was quite desperate and their cause wasn’t aided when Simeon Akinola directed a wonderful chance high over the top after Sam Hart and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild had fashioned an opening from the left.
Minutes later, Blues went even closer. Stevenage stopper, Jamie Cumming, producing a wonderful save to keep out Nathan Ferguson’s dipping free-kick – Ferguson blasting over the North Stand from the resulting flag-kick.
It had been a decent start by the Blues. Terence Vancooten hacked off the line after Akinola had flicked goalwards. Meanwhile, Elliott List dragged wide as the visitors finally offered a threat of their own.
Hackett-Fairchild tested Cumming at his near post after Alan McCormack has superbly picked him out. But Stevenage were now coming into their own. Elliott Osborne was a whisker away from opening the scoring as the Blues backline creaked nervously.
It was far from polished fare immediately after the interval. Both sides scrapped, but quality came at a premium as passes went astray and opportunities subsided.
List cut in from the right but dragged his effort the wrong side of an upright. Blues, at this stage, notably unadventurous and devoid of ideas. Molesley threw on substitute Ricky Holmes in a desperate bid to stir up some intent from his side. Meanwhile, former Colchester man, Luke Norris drew a save from James Montgomery at his near post as Stevenage began to look the more likely.
Holmes skied a terrific late chance, but it was another frustrating outcome for the troubled Roots Hall outfit. The result left the Blues two points adrift of the safety zone, but in danger of getting cut adrift, should Barrow win their games in hand.
Southend United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, March 20 when they face Scunthorpe United at Glanford Park (3pm).
Southend United: James Montgomery, Elvis Bwomono, Alan McCormack (Ricky Holmes 69’), Shaun Hobson, Timothee Dieng, Simeon Akinola, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (Brandon Goodship 84’), Jason Demetriou (Jacob Mellis 84’), Sam Hart, Nathan Ferguson, John White (Capt) Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Tyler Cordner, Emile Acquah, Ashley Nathaniel-George
Booked: Alan McCormack (foul), Jason Demetriou (foul), Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (foul)
Stevenage: Jamie Cumming, Luther James-Wildin, Ben Coker, Scott Cuthbert (Capt) (Luke Prosser 42’), Elliot Osbourne, Danny Newton (Luke Norris 59’), Terence Vancooten, Elliott List, Tom Pett, Jack Aitchison (Romain Vincelot 90+1’), Chris Lines Subs not used: Billy Johnson (GK), Remeao Hutton, Arthur Read, Matty Stevens
Booked: Luke Prosser (foul)
Referee: Peter Wright
Assistants: James Vallance and Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official: Gareth Viccars