Southend United’s pre-season preparations continued this afternoon with a 2-2 draw against Dartford FC.
O’Shane Stewart netted with a delightful strike in the first half and a Josh Hill own goal doubled the Blues’ goal tally late on in the second half, as Phil Brown fielded a young side at Princes Park.
Dartford started brightly and had the first chances of the game. After Blues failed to clear a corner, Tom Bonner was presented with a chance from close range, but his scuffed, left-footed effort went wide of the target.
Connor Essam threatened to open the scoring two minutes later, a free-kick fell perfectly onto the head of the defender at the back post, but his effort went straight into the hands of Harry Seaden.
The home side continued their solid start to the game and nearly broke the deadlock on 20 minutes. Luke Allen was fed into the left-hand side of Blues’ penalty area by a Trialist, his low effort was well saved by Seaden and an unfortunate ricochet saw the ball bounce off the head of the striker and out for a goal kick.
Despite a good start from the home side, it was Brown’s men who took the lead.
Louis Walsh delivered a teasing corner which wasn’t properly dealt with. The ball fell to Stewart 20 yards out and the central midfielder unleashed a fierce strike past Craig King to put the visitors ahead.
The lead didn’t last long for Blues, as Jake Robinson levelled the game up in the 40th minute.
The former Billericay Town striker was brought down by Harry Seaden in the penalty area and he made no mistake in converting the spot-kick, as he tucked his penalty into the bottom left corner of Seaden’s goal.
The home side were on top as the first half came to its conclusion as Noor Husin forced Seaden into a routine save from a well-struck effort from the edge of the penalty area.
King’s side nearly took the lead almost immediately after the interval, as a dangerous low cross was whipped into Blues’ penalty area and Allen got contact, but his effort went narrowly wide of the right post.
The beginning of the second half was much like the beginning of the first, and Dartford again went close when Essam stabbed an effort over the target from a corner.
But King’s side were to take the lead in the fixture, and it happened with 68 minutes on the clock.
A Dartford Trialist did well to work the ball from the left-hand side, past Seaden and into the path of Dan Roberts, who tapped into an empty net to give the home side the lead.
Trialist C nearly made an instant impact from the bench as, in the 74th minute, he took the ball from his own half and worked it all the way to the edge of Dartford’s penalty area. His shot was blocked away as the game continued into its final stages.
Dartford went looking for a third and nearly got it with 82 minutes on the clock. George Porter hit a scuffed effort from incredibly close range and Seaden was equal to it with a great reaction save.
Brown’s side had grown into the second half, and Southend levelled the game up on the 83rd minute. A teasing ball was delivered by Trialist B and Josh Hill headed into his own net to give the visitors their second goal of the game.
Buoyed by their equaliser, the visitors pushed for a winner late on with a succession of corners, but the game finished level in a useful workout for both sides ahead of the upcoming season.
Southend: Seaden, Howard, Mitchell-Nelson, Davis, Sayers (Ralph 85’), Egbri (Trialist B 62’), Ferguson (Gard 85’), Stewart (Dunne 76’), Walsh (Trialist C 68’), Dalby (Trialist A 62’), Rush (Murphy 76’).
Southend – Stewart (35’) Hill OG (83’)
Dartford – Robinson (40’) Roberts (68’)