Two goals from Ched Evans were only enough for a point at Highbury as Fleetwood Town drew 2-2 with Southend United on Saturday.
The Cod Army came from behind twice against the relegation threatened side, courtesy of goals either side of half-time from Harry Bunn and Luke Hyam.
However, a late Evans penalty – after Paddy Madden was fouled – sealed a point in a game in which Joey Barton’s side were unfortunate to not collect all three points.
Town got off to an inspired start, as Madden headed the ball into the back of the net after just two minutes. Unfortunately for The Cod Army, it was disallowed for offside and the score remained level.
Fleetwood kept up the pressure early doors, moving the ball quickly and keeping possession well, however, couldn’t find a way through Southend’s defensive line. Ross Wallace almost created a chance for himself after a silky run in and out of two defenders, but Rob Kiernan made a good challenge to prevent a shot.
The Shrimpers grew into the game and had their first effort in the 16th minute. Simon Cox, who is currently on 14 league goals, dragged his shot wide from outside the area.
Five minutes later and Kevin Bond’s side were in the lead, after an error at the back from Fleetwood Town allowed Bunn to get on the scoresheet from close range.
The Cod Army, in search of an equaliser, reacted well with Evans meeting Lewie Coyle’s cross, but the header was deflected wide for a corner. Although, the resulting corner couldn’t find anyone in the box and came to nothing.
Joey Barton made two changes at half time with both Ash Hunter and Ashley Nadesan coming on, replacing Ryan Rydel and Harrison Biggins.
Fleetwood started the second half the better side, with Nathan Bishop pulling off a crucial save to keep Madden’s effort out and the score level. A minute later, Hunter almost made an immediate impact after his in-swinging corner hit the crossbar.
Eventually Town got the equaliser they were looking for through the captain, Evans. It came after some brilliant play down the right flank, capped off by Nadesan’s great pass through to Ched, who then hit it past Bishop for his 14th Sky Bet League One goal of the campaign.
After a poor performance in the first half, Fleetwood Town definitely raised their game for the second, keeping the ball better and creating more chances. The next chance came through Wallace as his deep cross picked out Madden but fortunately for Southend they could scramble his cut-back away.
From one end to the other, substitute, Ash Eastham had the chance to put Fleetwood in front but couldn’t get enough contact on the attempt and from that The Shrimpers countered and could only manage to win a corner from it.
Following the corner, Southend were awarded a free-kick after a foul on Sam Hart. The free-kick was nicely delivered and Town failed to clear it, allowing Luke Hyam to hit the ball from just inside the box, with venom, into the top of the net.
Two minutes later and Fleetwood were awarded a penalty after Madden was brought down in the area. Evans stepped up and calmly slotted the penalty into the net, sending the keeper the wrong way and adding another to his tally for the season, making it 15 goals in the league.
Fleetwood remain unbeaten in three games now, picking up 7 points from a possible 9.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Burns, Evans (c), Souttar, Madden, Wallace, Husband, Biggins (Nadesan 46’), Sowerby (Eastham 69’), Rydel (Hunter 46’).
Subs not used: Jones (GK), Sheron, Baggley, Hill.
Southend XI: Bishop (GK), Hyam, Kightly, Cox, Kiernan, Mantom (Dieng 81’), Demetriou, Lennon, Bunn (Humphrys 69’), Hart (Bwomono 89’), White.
Subs not used: Oxley (GK), Yearwood, Moore, Kelman.