Southend suffered more late drama as John White’s own goal means Blues and Crawley will have to meet again in 10 days’ time, following a 1-1 draw in the Emirates FA Cup.
Blues dominated the first-half and, after Simon Cox missed two clear chances in front of goal, Michael Kightly put Southend in front after less than 10 minutes.
Ollie Palmer thought he’d headed Crawley level before the interval, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside, but Southend should have been home and hosed by the break.
Crawley grew into the contest as the second-half wore on and went close when Joe McNerney hit the top of the crossbar from a Filipe Morais free-kick.
And with nerves jangling at the back, The Red Devils broke through when Morais’ low cross was turned into his own net by John White, forcing a replay.
Having conceded so late against Barnsley last weekend, this would have been another bitter pill to swallow for Chris Powell who knows he should have ended Blues’ FA Cup hoodoo with a win.
Instead, both sides will now meet again in a week and a half’s time in a replay to decide who will advance to the second round.
Chris Powell said before the game that he was keen to end Southend’s abysmal run in the Emirates FA Cup, with Blues having not won in the competition for four years, and the Southend boss made just the three changes to the side that lost out late on at Barnsley.
Stephen McLaughlin and Michael Kightly were deployed down the wings and Theo Robinson joined Simon Cox up front, and it was Robinson’s strike partner who had two glorious chances to give Blues an early lead at Roots Hall.
The first chance came after Jason Demetriou played a low ball into the area with Cox meeting it, but only finding the chest of Glenn Morris in goal. Minutes later and Kightly floated the ball perfectly onto the head of Cox, but his header was poor and missed the target.
Visitors Crawley had been dismal in defence in their last two games, conceding nine times, and Southend eventually capitalised on that fragility by opening the scoring through Kightly. The Blues number seven got on the end of a slide-rule pass from Cox and fired past Morris inside 10 minutes.
Southend continued to dominate their League Two opposition after taking the lead and they went close again when McLaughlin cut onto his left-foot inside the area, forcing a smart save from Morris with a low strike.
Crawley – who themselves had had a miserable recent record in the cup – looked bereft of ideas up front but they did get the ball in the back of the net before the break when Ollie Palmer’s glancing header beat Mark Oxley, only for the linesman to rule it out for offside.
Having dominated the first-half, Blues will have felt they should have been more than a goal to the good at the break, but with the scoreline at 1-0 you could never consider Crawley to be out of the contest and they had a half-chance to level when Mark Connolly headed over from a corner.
Crawley were starting to grow in confidence and they carved out their best chance of the game after the hour. The ball fell kindly to Panutche Camara who failed to pull the trigger in the area, but Southend couldn’t clear their lines and Camara’s snapshot was saved by the legs of Oxley.
As the minutes passed, Crawley kept getting closer and closer and the visitors went within inches of grabbing an equaliser when Filipe Morais’ free-kick was headed onto the top of the crossbar by Joe McNerney.
And after pushing and pushing, the Blues defence cracked when Crawley grabbed an equaliser that their second-half display arguably deserved. A low cross into a dangerous area from Morais was begging to get a final touch, with John White the unfortunate one putting into his own net.
Southend have made a habit of conceding goals late and were punished for not putting Gabriele Cioffi’s side away in the first-half, with both sides now having to face a replay in a week and half’s time to decide who will make the second round.
Blues XI: Oxley, Turner, Kightly (Bunn 71’), Dieng, Cox, McLaughlin, Mantom (C), Demetriou, Robinson (Yearwood 71’), Hendrie, White. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Bwomono, Moore, Kyprianou, McCoulsky
Crawley Town XI: Morris, Young, Payne, McNerney, Connolly, Palmer, Gambin (Grego-Cox 80’), Francomb (Nathaniel-George 57’), Maguire, Morais (C), Camara. Subs Not Used: Mersin, Doherty, Vincelot, Bulman, N’Gala
Referee: Scott Oldham
Assistants: Isaac Searle & Stephen Brown
Fourth Official: Alan Dale
Southend United: Michael Kightly 9’
Crawley Town: John White O.G. 85’
Southend United: John White 65’, Simon Cox 72’, Timothee Dieng 76’
Crawley Town: None
Attendance: 3,935 (323 Away)