Report: Plymouth 1-1 Southend United
Southend United maintained their unbeaten start to 2014 as they drew 1-1 with Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.
Dominic Blizzard broke the deadlock with a deflected strike in the 65th minute before Hurst equalised just two minutes later, latching onto a pass from substitute Cauley Woodrow.
In a game of few chances, those were to be the two telling moments as Blues took a point from their first away game of the New Year.
The draw means Blues have now lost just one of their last 14 games in all competitions.
Despite three goals in two games from midfield, it was Ryan Leonard who Phil Brown opted to replace the injured John White at right-back.
Alongside Leonard at the back was Mark Phillips who replaced Adam Thompson. Kevan Hurst was the other man to come into the side from the one that beat Millwall.
After a quiet start from both sides, Daniel Bentley had to be alert to tip Conor Hourihane’s in swinging free-kick past the post after it had evaded everyone.
Bentley was then at his best to keep Plymouth out in the 17th minute. A corner came all the way through to Reuben Reid, but the striker saw his effort tipped away by Blues’ goalkeeper.
Blues’ first effort on goal came from a set-piece of their own as Will Atkinson was fouled. Ben Coker took the resulting free-kick, but Argyle ‘keeper Luke McCormick got across to make a smart save.
From the resulting corner, Luke Prosser was unable to turn home a loose ball after McCormick had dropped it under pressure from Barry Corr.
After a slow start, Blues began to get into their rhythm and just after half-hour mark, they went close again. Kevan Hurst’s cross to the back post found Corr, but the striker headed just wide of McCormick’s goal.
Hurst went close himself on the stroke of half-time, but his whipped free-kick from the left was tipped over by McCormick.
Woodrow replaced Conor Clifford just before the hour mark and with his first touch he almost scored. The young striker just couldn’t get enough contact on Leonard’s excellent cross.
The change to 4-4-2 had put the visitors on the front foot, but they found themselves a goal behind in the 65th minute.
A loose ball fell kindly for Blizzard, who hit it early, and saw the ball loop up off Prosser and over Bentley to give the hosts the lead.
But within two minutes, Blues were level. Woodrow played in Hurst who timed his run to perfection before sliding the ball past McCormick for his ninth of the season.
Bentley was again called into action as Reid went on a solo run for Argyle. The striker beat three men but his effort was well saved by Blues’ shotstopper.
Substitute Marc Laird couldn’t make the most of a chance late on for Blues before Curtis Nelson crashed an effort off the post for the visitors.
Brown’s side survived that scare and held on to earn a point on the road and extend their unbeaten run to six matches.
Blues: Bentley; Leonard, Phillips, Prosser, Coker; Atkinson, Clifford (Woodrow 57), Timlin; Hurst, Straker (Laird 82), Corr (Eastwood 74).
Subs not used: Payne, Smith, Gomis, Thompson.