REPORT | Southend United 2-2 Fleetwood TownSouthend United had to settle for a point at home to Fleetwood Town, just as it looked like they had stolen all three points.
Jack Payne had completed the turnaround with his fifth goal in five games ten minutes before full time but Conor McLaughlin headed home in stoppage time to give the visitors a 2-2 draw.
It was all after Bobby Grant gave Fleetwood a second half lead which Adam Barrett had then canceled out.
Phil Brown made one change from last week’s defeat away to Blackpool, a fit again Ryan Leonard replacing Jamar Loza in the starting eleven.
Both sides started brightly with Wesley Burns catching a sweet half volley and testing Dan Bentley into a good save at his near post, but it was at a good height for the Southend number one to push it around the left post.
Blues then had a couple of chances through a Tyrone Barnett header and, much closer, through a Stephen McLaughlin header which was cleared off the line by Antoni Sarcevic.
It wasn’t until the 17th minute when Blues had another sniff at goal. McLaughlin’s shot was deflected into the path of Adam Thompson whose first time effort was stopped by the outstretched leg of Chris Maxwell in the Fleetwood goal.
Fleetwood went very close to taking the lead straight up the other end when Burns’ cross reached Bobby Grant, but his header came back off the post.
The game turned into a midfield contest midway through the first half with little in the way of action in the final third’s.
Southend applied some pressure with a flurry of corners and Burns sent a shot flying over the bar for the visitors in the game’s brief hint go springing into life.
The pace dropped though as the half reached the closing stages.
Thompson made a fantastic challenge in the penalty area which halted a Fleetwood move with little room for error.
Stefan Scougall had a tame effort at goal which was’t troubling Bentley and as the half drew to close, a Fleetwood free-kick eventually dropped to Stephen Jordan who swivelled and rifled over from 12 yards.
Into the second half, David Worrall’s tireless work won Blues an early corner, but McLaughlin’s in-swinger evaded everyone.
The pace didn’t really pick up in the early moments until the 53rd minute when Town took the lead through Grant.
Conor McLaughlin played the ball from just in front on the dugouts into the striker in a central position, and he took aim from 30 yards, beating Bentley with some swerve to take it away from the Southend goalkeeper and into the left hand corner of the net.
Myles Weston was Phil Brown’s first sub of the afternoon on the hour mark and the striker was immediately involved, latching onto Barnett’s flick on but shooting inches wide of the left post in Blues’ best chance of the game up until that point.
Fleetwood threatened to extend their lead when Scougall received the loose ball on the edge of the penalty area, but sent his shot over.
Blues livened up 25 minutes into the second half as Jack Payne stole a march on his marker to reach David Worrall’s cross which was deflected behind for a corner, and from that Blues levelled things up.
McLaughlin’s corner from the right was nodded home by Adam Barrett, not for the first time in his Southend career, in front of the South Stand.
Fleetwood claims for a penalty were to avail when Burns claimed he was pulled back inside the box.
Steven Pressley’s men had a huge chance to re-take the lead but Grant, inexcusably, missed the target from close range.
With ten minutes to go, Blues completed the turn around with a brilliantly taken goal from the in-form Payne.
Initially, substitute Sam McQueen had just missed his header from Payne’s corner, but Weston kept the ball alive on the other side. He played the ball to Deegan on the edge of the area, who looked like shooting himself before deciding to play it back out to Payne on the right-hand side and from there the little man cut in and found the near post.
But as the game entered four minutes stoppage time, Fleetwood equalised when Conor McLaughlin pounced at the far post from a left-wing cross and it ended with a point apiece.
Blues: Bentley, Coker, Thompson, Barrett, Worrall (White 87’), Deegan, Atkinson (Weston 59’), Leonard, McLaughlin (McQueen 79’), Payne, Barnett.
Fleetwood Town: Maxwell, McLaughlin, Jonsson (Hunter 84’), Jordan, Pond, Bell, Ryan, Burns, Grant (Cole 87’), Sarcevic, Scougall (Ball 76’).