Blues picked up their first point under Sol Campbell with a 1-1 draw against Burton Albion at the Pirelli Stadium as Stephen McLaughlin’s goal was cancelled out by Scott Fraser’s free-kick.
Minutes after McLaughlin had missed a glorious headed chance, the Southend number 11 headed Blues in front with a powerful header from an Isaac Hutchinson corner midway through the first-half.
Southend held that lead through to the break where they would also go in with a man advantage after John-Joe O’Toole was shown a straight red card for a clash with Tom Hopper.
Despite being a man light though, Burton would level shortly after the interval with Fraser’s arching free-kick leaving Nathan Bishop motionless.
Sol Campbell threw all the attacking options he had onto the pitch to try and force a priceless win but his side weren’t able to carve out a clear chance on goal.
Burton rattled the crossbar through David Templeton as they went for an unlikely winner but in the end the spoils were shared between the sides.
Blues will likely feel a hint of disappointed not being able to capitalise on their extra man but Campbell will be pleased to get a positive result after their last outing against Oxford.
The Southend boss made four changes from the side that had fallen to a 4-0 defeat to Oxford 10 days ago with Brandon Goodship, Sam Mantom, Jason Demetriou and Isaac Hutchinson coming in.
That break seemed to do Southend the world of good as they looked the fresher of the two sides in brisk conditions in Staffordshire and they had a brilliant chance to open the scoring early on.
Goodship’s first-time cross found the run of Stephen McLaughlin six yards out with the Irishman’s downward header somehow being tipped up and onto the bar by Kiernan O’Hara.
McLaughlin arguably should have buried the chance, but he more than made up for it minutes later as the Blues midfielder headed Blues in front with 21 minutes on the clock.
Hutchinson this time was the provider with a floated corner that was met with purpose by McLaughlin, heading beyond O’Hara to give Blues a deserved lead.
Southend had been the better side and deserving of their advantage and they were handed a man advantage too shortly after going in front as former Blues loanee John-Joe O’Toole was sent off.
The Burton defender clashed with Tom Hopper, winning the free-kick but as he fell to the ground a flailing arm connected with Hopper leaving referee Darren Drysdale to show a straight red card.
Despite being a man light though, Burton would level shortly after the interval with a superbly taken free-kick from Scott Fraser bringing the two sides level.
Timothee Dieng’s foul gave Fraser the opportunity on goal which he gladly took, curling the ball up and over the wall, leaving Nathan Bishop helpless as the ball floated into the back of the net.
Fraser’s strike had Burton smelling blood against a Blues side low on confidence after nine league games without a win and the home side went within the width of the crossbar from taking the lead.
David Templeton picked the ball up around 25-yards from goal before thundering a shot off the face of Bishop’s crossbar as Burton looked to capitalise on their second-half momentum.
Nigel Clough’s side continued to press for a second and only some brilliant defending from Nathan Ralph prevented Ryan Edwards tapping in Colin Daniel’s low cross into the box.
Sol Campbell threw caution to the wind by throwing on Stephen Humphrys and Simon Cox with attack seemingly the best form of defence for Southend, but Blues struggled to create chances.
Six additional minutes were shown at the end of the game but it wasn’t enough for either side to get a late breakthrough as both sides had to settle for a point.
Burton Albion XI: O’Hara, Daniel, Edwards (Sbarra 90+2’), Buxton (C), Quinn (Wallace 88’), Fraser, Akins, Templeton (Hutchinson 80’), Nartey, O’Toole, Boyce. Subs Not Used: Garratt, Anderson, Beardsley
Blues XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph, Dieng (C), Hopper, McLaughlin (Humphrys 54’), Goodship (Kinali 76’), Kiernan, Mantom (Cox 63’), Demetriou, Hutchinson. Subs Not Used: Oxley, Taylor, Acquah, Rush
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistants: Lisa Rashid & Conor Brown
Fourth Official: Wade Smith
Burton Albion: Scott Fraser 50’
Southend United: Stephen McLaughlin 21’
Burton Albion: Jake Buxton 81’
Southend United: Jason Demetriou 35’, Timothee Dieng 48’, Stephen McLaughlin 52’
Burton Albion: John-Joe O’Toole 33’
Southend United: None