Southend United 1–1 Fleetwood Town
By Sam Gilliland
Barry Corr’s late header snatched a draw for Southend to deny Fleetwood Town an away win.
The Shrimpers substitute headed home from Britt Assombalonga’s cross with five minutes to go, after Alan Goodall’s quick-fire opener had given Town a first-half lead.
Gareth Evans also missed a penalty for the Cod Army before half-time, which proved costly as Southend fought back for a hard-earned point.
Graham Alexander made two changes to the side that shared a point with Gillingham at Highbury on Saturday. Conor McLaughlin came in for Shaun Beeley in defence, while Paul McKenna replaced midfielder Anthony Barry.
Fleetwood entered the Roots Hall Stadium to a party atmosphere, with Phil Brown being unveiled for his first home game as manager of the Shrimpers, and Southend also look forward to a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final at Wembley on Sunday.
But Town spoiled the party inside two minutes to the shock of the home team, when Jamille Matt won a corner on the right, and Alan Goodall headed in at the near post from Junior Brown’s cross.
United struggled to escape from their half in the early moments, and were lucky not to be punished again, when Gareth Evans fired into the side netting from the left.
Paul McKenna also tried his luck from long range after being found by Nathan Pond, only to see his effort whistle over the crossbar.
Town’s best chance to double their lead could not have been a better one, when referee Mark Heywood awarded a penalty for a handball against Mark Phillips in the six yard box.
Jamie McGuire’s mishit effort came off the defenders arm, after being found by Brown from Evans’ cross, which earned the defender a booking.
But Evans’ resulting penalty was met by Smith’s strong right hand in the bottom left corner.
Fleetwood deserved their lead going into half-time, and it brought out a stronger Southend after the break.
Kevan Hurst’s left-foot drive past the far post was their best effort before the hour mark, although Phillips was fortunate not to see red for a second hand-ball offence on the edge of his area.
Hurst then crossed for Gavin Tomlin, who arrived in the box from the left wing, but his rising header flew wide of the left post.
Conor McLaughlin and substitute Jean Michel Fontaine both picked up bookings in a difficult second-half for Town, and Corr’s late header from Assombalonga’s cross leaves them almost out of reach of the playoffs.
TEAM: Davies, McLaughlin, Pond, Edwards, Goodall, Brown, McKenna, McGuire, Nicholson, Evans (Crowther 83), Matt (Fontaine 67)
BOOKINGS: McLaughlin, Fontaine