Southend United and Grimsby Town ground out a 0-0 draw at Blundell Park.
The league’s bottom two sides knew the game was one that neither could afford to lose, but it was the visitors who came away from Cleethorpes thinking what might have been as they had by far the better of the chances.
Simeon Akinola had arguably the best chance of the first-half heading straight at James McKeown in first-half stoppage time before Ashley Nathaniel-George almost scored late on but he was unable to prod his effort beyond the Mariners goalkeeper as each side had to settle for a point.
With both sides in the League Two relegation zone ahead of kick-off, the three points on offer at Blundell Park were of huge significance to both sides and their ambitions to climb out of the bottom two come 5pm this afternoon.
Blues boss Mark Molesley made just the one change to his Southend side that ground out a 1-0 win against Barrow, with Ashley Nathaniel-George coming in for the suspended Greg Halford after the versatile Halford was sent off last weekend.
Southend took the lead after 24 seconds in the reverse fixture one month and one day ago, and although Blues didn’t make as quick a start, they were the brighter of the two sides early on, on what was a very difficult surface.
James Olayinka’s deflected shot found its way to last weekend’s match-winner, Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, who quickly spun and shot towards James McKeown’s near-post only for the strike to hit the side netting.
The visitors then had half a shout for a penalty waved off when Nathaniel-George was upended in the box, but referee Ben Toner was unmoved, before Grimsby had their first strike in anger come from Matt Green who shot straight at Mark Oxley on his 150th appearance for Blues.
Southend continued to have the better of the first-half chances though with a Hackett-Fairchild driving run allowing him to get a shot away. From the resulting corner, Blues cleverly engineered space for Jason Demetriou whose dangerous cross had to be hacked clear by the Mariners.
And right on the half-time interval, Simeon Akinola had a great chance to send Blues into the break 1-0 up as he was out by a Hackett-Fairchild cross towards the far post. The Southend number nine on the stretch could only head straight at McKeown from a tight angle.
Blues remained more of a threat in the second-half with Hackett-Fairchild firing one straight at McKeown before a driving run from Nathaniel-George needed some last-ditch defending from the Mariners to deflect the winger’s shot over the crossbar.
As dusk fell over Blundell Park, it was looking increasingly likely that just the one goal was going to be enough for either side to pick up a vital three points but as four minutes of added-on time were shown it looked like neither would find the crucial breakthrough.
Southend though had a superb chance in the third of those four added on minutes as Nathaniel-George was picked out at the far post but he couldn’t direct his shot beyond McKeown as the Mariners held on.
Grimsby Town XI: McKeown (C), Hendrie, Waterfall, Pollock, Habergham, Hewitt, Spokes, Wright (Scannell 86’), Williams (Hanson 67’), Preston, Green (Jackson Jnr 77’). Subs Not Used: Russell, Starbuck, Bennett, Gibson
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Hobson, Olayinka (McCormack 34’), Dieng, Akinola, Hackett-Fairchild, Nathaniel-George, Demetriou, Hart, White (C). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Clifford, Acquah, Howard, R Taylor, K Taylor
Referee: Ben Toner
Assistants: Paul Evans & Billy Smallwood
Fourth Official: Wayne Grunnill
Grimsby Town: None
Southend United: None
Grimsby Town: Sam Habergham 71’, Luke Spokes 90+1’
Southend United: Alan McCormack 74’, John White 75’, Jason Demetriou 90+4'