Southend were held to a 1-1 draw against Maidenhead United at Roots Hall this evening with Rhys Murphy’s first-half strike being cancelled out by Kane Ferdinand’s equaliser.
After a disjointed first 45 minutes from the home side following a 10-day break, Murphy scored his ninth goal of the season after being teed up by Sam Dalby and he should have grabbed a second before the interval only for a superb save from James Holden to keep him out.
The visitors though put the pressure on Blues in the second-half and Southend’s defence finally cracked as Ferdinand lashed in the leveller from inside the box to ensure that the points were shared between the sides.
Blues returned to action for this rearranged game with Maidenhead at a wet and windy Roots Hall looking to pick up back-to-back wins for the first time this season and move away from the relegation places in the National League following a win at Altrincham last time out.
Kevin Maher named an unchanged line-up to take on an out of sorts Maidenhead who fell into the drop zone after a 3-0 defeat to Barnet at the weekend, but they had the better of the early chances with Josh Kelly stinging the palms of Steve Arnold with a low shot.
Kelly again threatened midway through the first-half as he attacked the near-post and came close to converting George Wells’ dangerous cross from the left as the home side struggled to get going under the lights in Essex.
But right on half-time Southend would break the deadlock as Rhys Murphy put the home side in front. After carrying the ball forward, Sam Dalby slid in the Southend number nine who was in acres of space and had time to turn and fire in to make it 1-0.
That was Murphy’s ninth of the season and it should have been double figures before the half was out as Dalby again found Murphy, but this time he was thwarted by a superb save from Holden who spread himself well.
The visitors began the second-half brightly with Kelly continuing to be their key protagonist and he forced a smart save low to Arnold’s right after the Maidenhead dangerman had broken clean through.
Alan Devonshire’s side continued to build the pressure as Southend struggled to get a grip of the ball and a mistake from Arnold almost let sub Dan Sparkes in, but the Blues goalkeeper managed to make up for his error to keep him out.
Kelly went close again when his cross from the right was close to sneaking its way through only for Murphy to clear the ball off the line, and eventually, the visitor’s pressure told as Kane Ferdinand was teed up inside the box to smash home the equaliser in the 73rd minute.
The next goal would be key and Murphy had a glorious chance to win it for Blues after getting on the end of a ball over the top from Jason Demetriou, but he was unable to keep his half-volley down as his strike flew over the crossbar and a frustrated Southend had to settle for just a point.
Blues XI: Arnold, Ralph, Hobson, Murphy, Dalby, Ferguson, Walsh (Egbri 65’), Atkinson (Gard 82’), Lopata, Demetriou (C), Brunt. Subs Not Used: Dunne, Clifford, Rush
Maidenhead United XI: Holden, Wells, Parry, Clerima, Ferdinand, Smith (Sparkes 62’), Acquah (Blissett 64’), Upward, Kelly, Massey (C), Adams. Subs Not Used: Sendles-White, Burley, Beckwith
Referee: Scott Tallis
Assistants: Alan Cresswell & Farai Hallam
Fourth Official: Aaron Conn
Southend United: Rhys Murphy 45’
Maidenhead United: Kane Ferdinand 73’
Southend United: Kacper Lopata 4’
Maidenhead United: Manny Parry 90+1’
Attendance: 4,928 (27 Away)