Southend United picked up their first draw of the 2014-15 Sky Bet League 2 campaign as it finished 1-1 against Carlisle United at Brunton Park.
Conor Clifford’s goal, only his second since moving to Roots Hall last summer, earned Phil Brown’s side a point, scoring shortly after Antony Sweeney had handed the hosts the lead.
Brown named an unchanged side for the game at Brunton Park with the only change coming on the bench as Will Atkinson was fit enough to take the place of Ellis Brown.
Jack Marriott, on loan at Carlisle United from Championship side Ipswich Town, had the first two chances of the game for the hosts.
The first, which came inside ten minutes, should have ended up in the back of the net, but the striker blazed his effort over the bar as Daniel Bentley rushed out to close him down.
The youngster then poked just wide of the target after he latched on to former Southend United striker Billy Paynter’s low cross at the near post.
Blues’ first chance of the game fell the way of right-back John White. The skipper latched on to Luke Prosser’s flick-on from a long Ryan Leonard throw, but his low drive was deflected just wide of the target.
That effort seemed to lift Brown’s side, and Myles Weston, who had moved out to the left-wing, almost opened the scoring. The summer signing beat his man but fired narrowly wide of the near post.
Blues had got on top of the opposition but found themselves behind just before the break. Patrick Brough produced an excellent cross that found Sweeney, and the former Hartlepool United man headed past Bentley.
With the half-time whistle about to blow, Clifford produced a moment of brilliance to level the scores. Ben Coker played the ball inside to the midfielder who took one touch out his feet and hit a low drive from 25-yards that found the bottom corner superbly.
Carlisle began the second-half brightly, and after Bentley had pushed away David Symington’s drive, he did well to make a similar save from Marriott after Paynter had played him through.
Bentley’s opposite number Mark Gillespie then made two good saves of his own. He denied Corr in the first instance, making a strong save down to his left, before keeping out Shaq Coulthirst from the rebound.
Gillespie was then at fault as Blues almost went ahead. His clearance only went as far as Lee Barnard, who had replaced Barry Corr moments before, shot towards goal. It was helped on by fellow sub David Worrall, but his effort was cleared off the line.
The two subs linked up again with five minutes left, as Barnard flicked a header on, but Worrall’s volley was well kept out by Gillespie.
There was to be no winning goal for either side, as Blues had to settle for a point against Graham Kavanagh’s side.
Blues: Bentley; White, Prosser, Bolger, Coker; Hurst (Worrall), Coulthirst (Atkinson), Leonard, Clifford; Weston, Corr (Barnard).
Subs: P. Smith, Ibenfeldt, Thompson, Payne