REPORT | Southend 1-1 Charlton
ANDREW CROFT’s 89th minute equaliser salvaged a point for Charlton Athletic against the Blues after Simon Cox’s first half effort looked to have won Southend the points.
Cox’s solitary goal in the first half looked to have been enough for Phil Brown’s side who were thankful for the contribution of goalkeeper Ted Smith who pulled off a string of fine saves.
Blues' number 10 was found in the penalty area from a corner, doing brilliantly to spin his marker and beat Dillon Phillips to find the bottom corner.
Smith was forced into making two brilliant one-handed saves in the second half to prevent Fredrik Ulvestad and Jordan Botaka before watching Joe Aribo’s effort crash off the bar.
Southend came close to killing the game off when Stephen McLaughlin also hit the woodwork with late chances from Will Atkinson and Marc-Antoine Fortune going begging.
And the Blues were made to pay for their missed opportunities as Croft volleyed in Joe Aribo’s cross from close range.
The draw extended Southend’s unbeaten league run to 12 games but it’ll be viewed upon as two points dropped in the chase for promotion.
Southend United were unchanged from the 3-0 home win against AFC Wimbledon on Boxing Day with Phil Brown resisting the urge to put Nile Ranger straight back into the starting line-up after his injury.
Charlton themselves were coming off the back of their first win since November 22nd with Karl Robinson getting the better of his former side on Boxing Day, beating MK Dons at Stadium MK 1-0 and they were without the highly rated Ademola Lookman who was out through illness.
In front of a season record crowd at Roots Hall the opening quarter of an hour went by without much incident, before Stephen McLaughlin came within inches of scoring a wonder-goal from 25-yards for the Blues with his strike just whistling past the post.
Charlton’s Josh Magennis had Ted Smith sprawling to his left to save a low effort on goal before Southend took the lead through Simon Cox midway through the first half.
A corner from the left-hand side was swung into the box, falling at the feet of Cox who, with his back to goal, done brilliantly to spin his man and plant his left foot strike into the bottom corner to put the home side in front.
Charlton responded well to going a goal down and forced a brilliant one handed save from Smith as he was required to tip Joe Aribo’s effort around the post for a corner, but that was as close as the Addicks came as Southend twice came close to doubling their lead before the interval.
Anthony Wordsworth’s left foot strike across goal following a counter attack looked destined for the bottom corner before Dillon Phillips’ right hand tipped it away for a corner. And in the final minute of normal time Phillips was in action again as he had to react smartly to a low strike from Cox.
Charlton began the second half on the front foot with Fredrik Ulvestad firing over within seconds of the restart and Smith was needed to tip over a far post effort from Jorge Teixeira after he was found by Nicky Ajose’s free-kick.
Having come so close to scoring in the first half with a long-range effort, McLaughlin went even closer in the second period, almost doubling Southend’s lead as he struck the post after being found unmarked at the back-stick.
With the scoreline at 1-0 Charlton were never out of the equation and they went close to equalising three times in the space of two minutes with Smith pulling out two brilliant saves before getting a helping hand from the woodwork to keep the Blues in front.
Smith first denied Ulvestad from scoring by tipping his strike over the bar before the Southend stopper made an even better one-handed save to prevent substitute Jordan Botaka scoring on the turn.
There was nothing though Smith could do but watch and hope as Aribo finally managed to beat the dive of Smith only to see his effort come crashing down off the underside of the crossbar.
Southend twice went close to killing the game off when Will Atkinson and Marc-Antoine Fortune went close late on before Charlton popped up to find an equaliser in the 89th minute.
A cross from the right from Aribo picked out Addicks captain Andrew Crofts who volleyed in off the underside of the crossbar in front of the travelling Charlton fans.
Blues XI | Smith, Wordsworth, Thompson, Timlin, Cox (Ranger 73’), McLaughlin (McGlashan 80’), Atkinson, Fortune, Leonard, Demetriou, Ferdinand (C). Subs Not Used: White, O’Neill, King, Bridge, Bexon
Charlton Athletic XI | Phillips, Ajose (Botaka 64’), Aribo, Bauer, Chicksen, Crofts (C), Fox (Ahearne-Grant 77’) , Konsa, Magennis, Teixeira, Ulvestad (Umerah 86’). Subs Not Used: Foley, Johnson, Mitov, Lennon
Referee: Mark Heywood
Assistants: Ian Cooper & Rob Smith
Fourth Official: Robert Hyde
Southend United: Simon Cox 24’
Charlton Athletic: Andrew Crofts 89’
Southend United: Simon Cox 66’
Charlton Athletic: Patrick Bauer 48’, Morgan Fox 71’, Jordan Botaka 90’