Report: Southend United 1-1 Rochdale
Kevan Hurst continued his rich goalscoring form as his goal earned Blues a point in a 1-1 draw with Rochdale in their final home game of 2013.
The sides went into the game with matching form so far this season, with both teams on 33 points, and it was very much an even affair at Roots Hall.
Jamie Allen opened the scoring for the visitors in the 15th minute with a fine curling effort from the edge of the box.
Kevan Hurst got his eighth goal of the season to level for Blues just before half-time.
Both sides had chances in the second-half but were made to settle for a point that kept Blues above Dale on goal difference.
Phil Brown recalled Ryan Leonard and Will Atkinson following the defeat at Torquay United, and it was Marc Laird and Conor Clifford who dropped to the bench.
Cauley Woodrow, back from suspension, was named on the bench, along with Freddy Eastwood.
It was former Blues midfielder Matthew Lund who had the first real sighting of goal, but his strike from 20-yards flew just wide of Daniel Bentley’s goal.
In the 15th minute, Rochdale did go ahead. Ian Henderson’s initial shot was blocked well, but the loose ball fell kindly for Allen who curled home with his left foot from the edge of the box.
Blues offered an immediate response, but Atkinson’s effort from just inside the box was held well by Josh Lillis in the Dale goal.
It was Rochdale though who really should have grabbed the game’s second goal. Somehow though, Blues survived, largely down to Luke Prosser.
First he blocked Scott Hogan’s goalbound effort that had Bentley beaten before incredibly denying Henderson from the rebound, when it seemed easier for him to score.
Just before the break, Blues levelled. Bentley’s kick was headed on by Barry Corr to Michael Timlin who in turn flicked the ball on to Hurst.
The midfielder cut inside his man and hit an excellent strike from just outside the box past Lillis.
Rochdale began the second-half on the front foot, but on the hour mark it was Blues who wasted a good chance.
Hurst’s corner was put into a dangerous area and was met by the head of Rob Kiernan. Unfortunately the defender’s effort flew over the bar.
Lund then had another good chance on his return to Roots Hall but failed to capitalise on Kiernan’s poor header clear as he volley wide.
Timlin then set up Corr, but the striker was unable to loop his header back over Lillis, and the ball grazed the top of the crossbar.
That was to be the last real chance of the game as both sides had to settle for a draw in their final game before Christmas.
Blues: Bentley; White, Prosser (Phillips), Kiernan, Coker; Timlin, Atkinson, Leonard (Woodrow); Straker (Eastwood), Hurst, Corr.
Subs not used: Smith, Laird, Clifford, Thompson.