REPORT | Southend 1-1 Port Vale
Blues were left frustrated as they slugged out a 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Port Vale at Roots Hall.
The first half was short of quality with Simon Cox having the best chance for Southend as he broke the offside trap only to shoot wide when alone in the area.
Port Vale had a couple of great chances themselves to open the scoring, the closest being Sam Foley’s flicked header that had to be cleared off the line by Jason Demetriou.
Southend hadn’t really got going at all in the game and with just over 10 minutes remaining found themselves behind when Chris Eagles headed in Foley’s free kick.
The lead didn’t last long though as Anthony Wordsworth scored from a Ben Coker cut-back, with neither side able to force a third and decisive goal of the game to win all three points.
The point for the Valiants could prove vital in their fight against the drop, but it will be seen as a huge two points dropped by the Blues in their battle for a play-off place.
Coming off the back of their 2-1 defeat to Gillingham last weekend, Phil Brown made two changes to his Blues side with Will Atkinson coming in for Jermaine McGlashan and Anton Ferdinand for the suspended Ryan Inniss.
Port Vale on the other hand came to Roots Hall without a win in nine and they should have been behind early on here when Simon Cox somehow managed to beat the offside trap only to shoot wide when one-on-one with Leonardo Fasan.
Marc-Antoine Fortune then had a half chance for the Blues when he was picked out by Ben Coker’s cross, but the striker failed to direct his header on target as Port Vale easily cleared.
Since taking caretaker charge, Michael Brown had only overseen one win for Port Vale and for a brief period around the half hour mark they laid siege on the Southend goal, only for some last-ditch defending to prevent them going in front.
Nathan Smith was denied by a superb block by Adam Thompson six-yards out, before Jason Demetriou had to clear the ball off the line after Sam Foley’s flick-header looked destined for the back of the net.
Port Vale kept the pressure on but couldn’t get a shot away after a goal-mouth scramble inside the area and Ted Smith pulled off a comfortable save from a curling Jerome Thomas effort.
Southend just hadn’t gotten going in the game at all, and early in the second half Chris Eagles forced a smart save early in the second half from Smith as he got down to his low drive.
Phil Brown made a double substitution 10 minutes into the second half, bringing on the pacey duo of Jermaine McGlashan and Theo Robinson and the introduction seemed to spur the Blues on.
Cox had a brilliant chance to score go begging as Coker picked out the striker, whose first-time effort went wide. Moments later McGlashan was slid in by Will Atkinson but curled over.
Billy Reeves had a speculative effort from distance go over for Vale with chances for both sides proving few and far between as both teams meandered to what looked like being a stalemate.
That was until 12 minutes from time when the deadlock was finally broken as Eagles rose to head home Sam Foley’s header into the bottom corner to give the visitors a vital lead.
Southend needed a response and quickly, and Atkinson done well to create some space for himself inside the area only for his effort on goal to be blocked.
The Blues won a succession of corners as they ramped up the pressure on the Valiants’ goal and from one of them Frank Nouble’s glancing header had to be cleared off the line.
The Blues’ pressure eventually told as they were level with six minutes of normal time to go as Coker found acres of space on the left, getting to the by-line to cut the ball back for Anthony Wordsworth to bundle over from close range.
You would have thought that the momentum was now with Phil Brown’s side, but only a brilliant challenge from Ryan Leonard on Dan Turner stopped Vale from going back in front almost immediately.
Five minutes of added time were indicated at the end of the game as Southend tried to throw the kitchen sink at their visitors, but they couldn’t grab a second and had to settle for just a point.
Blues XI | Smith, Coker, Wordsworth, Thompson, Timlin (McGlashan 54’), Cox (Nouble 72’), Atkinson, Fortune (Robinson 54’), Leonard, Demetriou, Ferdinand (C). Subs Not Used: White, O’Neill, Amos, Bexon
Port Vale XI | Fasan, Purkiss (C), Hooper, Foley, Pugh (Reeves 47’), Thomas (Kelly 44’), Forrester, Tanser, Smith, Guy, Eagles (Turner 84’). Subs Not Used: Mehmet, Turner, Shalaj, Gibbons, Shodipo
Referee: Nigel Miller
Assistants: Ian Rathbone & Matthew Lee
Fourth Official: Darren Blunden
Southend United: Anthony Wordsworth 83’
Port Vale: Chris Eagles 78’
Southend United: Simon Cox 64’, Frank Nouble 87’
Port Vale: Callum Guy 60’, Chris Eagles 79’