Blues are off the mark in League One after Jason Demetriou’s penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw against Plymouth Argyle at Home Park.
After a bright start from Blues which saw Tom Hopper have a goal ruled out for offside in the opening three minutes, Southend went behind after Graham Carey scored a contentious penalty.
Southend responded well with Hopper and Sam Mantom forcing fine saves from Matt Macey but there was little he could do about Demetriou’s spot-kick after Timothee Dieng was fouled.
Shortly after, both managers were given their marching orders after an altercation which meant they had to watch the second half from the now unused Grandstand.
But after a frenetic first-half, neither side could keep pace in the second period as both sides settled for their first points of the season.
Having been so soundly beaten 4-0 on their last visit to Argyle back in March, a point will be seen as a big improvement by Chris Powell’s side who hadn’t won at Home Park since 1999.
Coming off the back of an opening day defeat to Doncaster Rovers, Blues made two enforced changes with Harry Lennon and Luke Hyam both missing out through injuries, being replaced by John White and Timothee Dieng.
Blues started off brightly and thought they had struck as early as the third minute when Stephen McLaughlin’s shot was spilt by goalkeeper Matt Macey. Tom Hopper tapped in the rebound, but his celebrations were curtailed by the linesman’s offside flag.
McLaughlin – making his 200th appearance for Blues – was looking lively and he played in a dangerous low ball into the area for Hopper to get on the end of, but the striker wasn’t able to get the connection required to beat Macey from close range.
Southend was looking the most likely to open the scoring, but their momentum was brought to a halt when Plymouth won a contentious penalty after McLaughlin was adjudged to have brought down Tafari Moore, seconds after Mark Oxley had saved a Conor Grant header.
The referee was unmoved by the Argyle appeals but it was the linesman on the near-side that signalled for the spot kick, which was expertly put away by Graham Carey to give the home side the lead.
Blues would have felt hard done by with that decision and set about levelling matters quickly, and they went close when Hopper forced a superb one-handed save from Macey with a low strike which had to be tipped around the post for a corner.
Macey was then called into action again after his punch fell kindly to Sam Mantom who rocketed a low half-volley towards the bottom corner only for Macey to thwart Blues once more.
However, from the resulting corner, Southend was given a penalty of their own after Ryan Taylor hauled down Timothee Dieng in the area. Jason Demetriou had the opportunity to level and he calmly rolled the ball into the net, sending Macey the wrong way to make it 1-1.
With the half-time interval fast approaching, a foul on Demetriou by Taylor resulted in an altercation between both benches, ending with both Powell and Derek Adams being shown a red card, forcing them to watch the second-half from the abandoned Grandstand.
After an end-to-end first-half, both sides were unable to keep up the pace in the second-half with neither side truly threatening their opposing goalkeepers.
Of the two sides, Southend looked the most likely to force a winner and went close when Ben Coker’s fizzed effort across goal was blazed over by Simon Cox at the far post.
Cox went close again minutes later when McLaughlin’s corner was headed across goal by White, but the striker couldn’t get the ball on target as his effort looped up and over the crossbar.
And with both sides seemingly settling for a point, substitute Michael Klass went perilously close to scoring his first senior goal after his low strike beat Macey but went wide of the far post as it remained 1-1.
Plymouth Argyle XI: Macey, Edwards, Ness, Fox (C)(Songo’o 65’), Taylor, Carey, Lameiras (Sawyer 55’), C Grant, Moore, Smith-Brown (Ladapo 70’), Wooton. Subs Not Used: Letheren, Canavan, J Grant, Wylde
Blues XI: Oxley (C), Demetriou, Turner, White, Coker, McLaughlin (Hendrie 90+2’), Dieng, Mantom, Kightly (Robinson 85’), Cox (Klass 81’), Hopper. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Bwomono, Kyprianou, McCoulsky
Referee: John Busby
Assistants: Andrew Laver & Ben Cobb
Fourth Official: Dean Treleaven
Plymouth Argyle: Graham Carey 21’(p)
Southend United: Jason Demetriou 38’(p)
Plymouth Argyle: Ryan Taylor 41’
Southend United: John White 75’
Attendance: 9,886 (394 away)