Southend United 0-0 Salford City
Battling Southend United edged further clear of the dropzone on a dramatic afternoon towards the bottom of Sky Bet League Two.
While the Blues scrapped for a share of the spoils with promotion-chasing Salford City, relegation rivals, Grimsby and Barrow both slipped to defeat, leaving Southend two points clear of the bottom two,
Much of the pre-match talk circled around the late arrival of goalkeeper, Alex Bass and the inclusion of Nile Rangers amongst the Blues substitutes. The 22-year-old goalkeeper signed on an emergency loan from Portsmouth following an injury to Mark Oxley, while Ranger – desperate for another opportunity in the game – returning following a two-year hiatus.
Typically, scruffy League Two fare donned the early stages of the contest – a far cry from the neat and tidy stuff produced by the Blues at the New Lawn three days previous.
Ash Hunter’s spectacular tumble, and subsequent squall, summed up the early exchanges. Reeco Hackett-Fairchild was cautioned for his part in the pantomime – Hunter swiftly jumped to his feet, suggesting all was rather healthier than his shriek had suggested.
Salford stopper, Vaclav Hladky saved from Emile Acquah after Hackett-Fairchild had played an altogether more positive role, while Shaun Hobson’s close-range attempt from the resulting flag-kick was deflected behind as Blues enjoyed the better of the early opportunities.
Acquah should have done better – heading directly into Hladky’s gloves after John White had nodded back across goal. Kyle Taylor sent another chance over the top as Blues continued to ask the sterner questions.
Bass had taken a couple of heavy knocks during the opening period. The loanee didn’t reappear for the restart – his palace taken by Harry Seaden.
Hunter fired over, while Jordan Turnbull’s flicked header wasn’t far away as the visitors tested the water. However, Acquah’s deflected effort for the hosts was the closest either side went in the halfs inaugural stages.
Substitutes, Richie Towell was unable to keep his effort down, while Seaden superbly saved at close quarters from Ian Henderson. Blues responded to Salford’s assaults by sending on Ranger in place of Acquah.
Blues were very much on the back foot now. Seaden fisted clear under pressure, while Ranger’s involvement was brought to a swift conclusion. A groin issue seemingly ending his afternoon as quickly as it had started.
Southend United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday, March 2 when they Cheltenham Town at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium (7:45pm)
Southend United: Alex Bass (Harry Seaden 46’), Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, Timothee Dieng, Simeon Akinola (Ashley Nathaniel-George 58’), Tom Clifford, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, Emile Acquah (Nile Ranger 77’) (Jason Demetriou 86’), Kyle Taylor (Alan McCormack 58’, Nathan Ferguson, John White (Capt) Subs not used: Tyler Cordner, Ricky Holmes
Booked: Reeco Hackett-Fairchild (foul), Alan McCormack (foul)
Salford City: Vaclav Hladky, Jason Lowe, Ash Eastham (Capt), Ash Hunter, Di’Shon Bernard, Jordan Turnbull, James Wilson (Richie Towell 66’), Robbie Gotts (Ibou Touray 66’), Paul Coutts, Brandon-Thomas-Asante, Ian Henderson Subs not used: William Evans (GK), Tom James, Luke Burgess, Oscar Threlkeld, Mani Dieseruvwe
Booked: Robbie Gotts (foul)
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Assistants: Bhupinder Gill and Graham Kane
Fourth Official: Robert Hyde