The 10 men of Southend United rallied to salvage a 1-1 draw against Torquay United at Roots Hall in the final game of the 21/22 campaign.
Jason Demetriou’s 57th minute sending off did little to deter Kevin Maher’s side from causing the Gulls problems, after Chiori Johnson gave Gary Johnson’s side the lead on the stroke of half time.
James Dunne scored his second goal of the season 14 minutes before time to ensure a share of the spoils and a 13th placed finish in Southend’s first season in the National League.
The visitors played the first half at a good tempo and forced a chance within the first five minutes.
Joe Felix’s free-kick was nodded down in Blues’ penalty area, and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans found room to slide the ball past Steve Arnold, but Harrison Neal recovered well to clear off the line.
Torquay continued to apply early pressure and experienced striker Danny Wright saw his strike hit the outside of the post, after sitting up nicely on the half volley.
As the game evened out, Blues managed to force an opening with Demetriou having a delicate shot saved, before the recycled ball was shot goal bound by Callum Powell, only to be blocked by Sam Dalby.
Gary Johnson’s side threatened the most in the opening half, and they managed to take the lead five minutes into stoppage time.
Johnson latched onto Dunne’s loose pass and raced through, lobbing the onrushing Arnold to grab his first goal of the 21/22 campaign.
Blues were quick out the blocks in the second half and Leon Davies nearly grabbed a leveller with a glanced header four minutes after the restart.
But Maher’s side fell to a man disadvantage in the 57th minute as Demetriou was given his marching orders by Aaron Jackson after a high challenge on Ben Wynter.
Despite being down to 10 men, the hosts were inches from drawing the came level in the 69th minute as Harrison Neal’s piledriver from 25 yards hit the top of the crossbar.
The red card seemed to galvanise Maher’s side, and Dunne remedied his earlier error by scoring Blues’ equaliser seven minutes later.
A neat give-and-go on the edge of the area resulted with the midfielder striking a left-footed effort into the far corner of Mark Halstead’s goal, as the 10-man hosts were in the ascendancy.
A minute from time, John White was given a cameo appearance to rallied cries of his name, as he played his final game for Southend.
A stint stretching back to 2013, White made his 288th appearance for Blues and helped see out the draw that Maher’s 10 men rightfully deserved.
Southend United – Arnold, Hobson, Bridge (Atkinson 85’), Dunne, Dalby, Powell (Wood 90’), Gubbins, Neal, Demetriou, Davies (White 89’), Kensdale.
Torquay United – Halstead, Wynter, Martin (Edwards 32’), Omar, Lemonheigh-Evans, Wright, Johnson, Duke-McKenna, O’Connell (Koszela 78’), Felix (Moyse 87’), Lewis.
Referee: Aaron Jackson
Assistants: Hugh Gilroy & Daniel Todd
Fourth Official: Jack Willmore
Southend United: Dunne (76’)
Torquay United: Johnson (45+5’)
Southend United: Kensdale (90’)
Torquay United: N/A
Southend United: Demetriou (57’)
Torquay United: N/A
Attendance: 6294 (141)