Southend United were held to a 1-1 draw against fellow promotion rivals Rotherham United at Roots Hall this afternoon despite a stunning goal from Kevan Hurst.
After a goalless first half Blues took the lead through a superb effort from Hurst but with less than a minute on the clock Johnny Mullins snatched a point for the away side bundling the ball home from close range.
The Millers had the first real chance of the game in the eighth minute after Ben Pringle delivered a dangerous right wing cross which Daniel Nardellio met at the back post testing Paul Smith’s reflexes as the keeper tipped the ball over the bar.
Blues started to press and Daniel Mayor nearly got his first goal for the club after an excellent run down the left gave him the opportunity to take aim from distance as his shot took a deflection sending the ball wide of goal.
Southend were inches away from taking the lead in the 18th minute form the resulting corner after Hurst’s drilled delivery found Matthew Lund unmarked with the midfielder heading agonisingly wide with Andy Warrington rooted in goal.
Nardellio had another chance for the away side in the 31st minute after a long ball forward by Kari Arnason found the wide midfielder who cut in before firing wide from the edge of the box.
Blues hit back and should’ve taken the lead in the 33rd minute after a quick counter attack gave Hurst a sight of goal but the midfielder missed the target from 18 yards.
Neither team could find the breakthrough before the break but Blues nearly did inside the first minute of the second half through Bilel Mohsni.
The Millers defence failed to clear and Mohsni fired just over the bar with a 20 yard volley with Warrington merely a spectator.
Minutes later Southend tested the keeper after a Ryan Leonard long throw was flicked towards the back post and Britt Assombalonga nodded the ball towards goal with Warrington parrying the ball away to safety.
Leonard’s long throw was causing problems once again in the 52nd minute with the ball falling to Mayor who rifled an effort at goal which flew narrowly over the bar with Warrington sprawling across his line.
Blues continued to press with Mohsni heading onto the roof of the net from a deep Sean Clohessy cross as the home side looked to score the opening goal.
The Millers hit back with a 25 yard free kick from David Noble which looked destined for the net before Smith dived to his right clutching onto the ball.
Southend broke the resistance of the Millers defence in the 73rd minute with a superb strike from Hurst which gave Warrington no chance whatsoever in the Rotherham goal.
Mayor played the ball to the midfielder with his back to goal and under no pressure Hurst turned and rifled an excellent effort which flew past the keeper and into the back of the net.
Blues looked for a second goal and Leonard acrobatically nearly found it in the 78th minute after controlling Hurst’s deep cross before attempting a bicycle kick which just missed the target.
Against the run of play the away side found an equaliser through captain Mullins after the defender steered in a rebound from his initial effort.
Noble delivered a dangerous cross into the box which Mullins hit towards goal from close range and after Smith denied him the defender bundled the ball home much to Blues despair as Rotherham snatched a point at the death.