Southend United picked up a point on the road in Hertfordshire as they drew 0-0 with Stevenage at the Lamex Stadium.
Both sides began the day inside the League Two relegation zone but the two cancelled each other out in a game that neither could afford to lose but both so desperately wanted to win in front of 1,500 Stevenage fans who were making their first visit to the Lamex since February.
Brandon Goodship and Richard Taylor had the best chances for Southend in the first-half, while Tyrone Marsh was unlucky to see his effort in the second-half crash against Mark Oxley’s crossbar as Southend stood firm.
Blues had the better of the closing stages and had glorious chances to pick up a second win of the season with Goodship, Alan McCormack and Terrell Egbri all going close, although Aramide Oteh almost nicked it in injury-time for the hosts.
Blues and Stevenage began the afternoon bottom and second-from-bottom respectively in the League Two table, which made the clash between the two vitally important for both Mark Molesley and his opposite number, Alex Revell.
Molesley named three changes to his side that lost last weekend at Bolton – with Tom Clifford, Emile Acquah and Richard Taylor coming in – while Revell, a former Blue himself, too named three changes to his starting line-up which included familiar faces Ben Coker and Luke Prosser.
Stevenage were being backed by close to 1,500 fans at the Lamex Stadium as supporters made their long-awaited return to football, but it was Blues who created the early chances with an Acquah effort being deflected wide before Alan McCormack volleyed the resulting corner over.
Southend continued to be the aggressor in a chilly Hertfordshire and forced a smart save out of Jamie Cumming who needed to tip over Brandon Goodship’s effort. And from the corner that followed, Taylor had a big chance with a free header that he could only nod wide.
Blues’ momentum was quelled by the hosts, with the visitors being forced into an early change as Clifford pulled up injured and had to be replaced by Harry Kyprianou a quarter of the way into the game, but the reshuffle didn’t affect Southend as we went into the break goalless.
Stevenage had ended the first-half with plenty of possession without really troubling Mark Oxley in the Blues goal, but Oxley was beaten all ends up early in the second-half when Tyrone Marsh was found from a corner, only for the woodwork to save Southend as Marsh’s shot rattled the crossbar.
Going into the final half an hour the game began to become stretched with Goodship and Taylor seeing efforts blocked, while Tom Pett and Aramide Oteh were looking dangerous for Stevenage as it started to look like one goal could be enough to secure a vital three points for either side.
McCormack chanced his arm from outside the box, but could only fire straight at Cumming, as Blues pushed for a winner before Southend brought on Terrell Egbri for Taylor who’d been walking a tightrope after being booked earlier in the half.
With both sides heading towards a share of the points, Southend looked the most likely to grab a late winner as they created three big chances in the final five minutes with Goodship and McCormack firing off target before substitute Egbri got goal side but failed to find the target also.
And in injury-time, Stevenage almost gifted Blues a winner after McCormack picked off a back-pass to Cummings but couldn’t find Acquah who was primed to score. Stevenage themselves then had a golden chance fall to Oteh at the far post but he couldn’t quite stretch far enough to convert.
Stevenage XI: Cumming, Coker, Vincelot, Prosser (C), Carter (List 67’), Marsh, Newton, Hutton, Vancooten, Pett (Read 80’), Oteh. Subs Not Used: Johnson, James-Wildin, Akinwande, Smith, Marshall
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, McCormack, Hobson, Olayinka, Dieng, Goodship, Clifford (Kyprianou 23’), Acquah, Taylor (Egbri 79’), Demetriou (C). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Phillips, Rush, O Coker, K Coker
Referee: Declan Bourne
Assistants: Kevin Howick & Scott Williams
Fourth Official: Kevin Johnson
Southend United: None
Stevenage: Danny Newton 57’
Southend United: Richard Taylor 69’, James Olayinka 74’