The spoils were shared between Grimsby Town and Southend United as a 0-0 draw left them as occupying the bottom two spots in League Two.
Paul Hurst picked up his first point as Mariners boss and Southend avoided defeat for the sixth time in seven games but the game will not go down as one of the classics.
Story of the game
Grimsby came into this must-win game in woeful form on home turf having only won one of their last seven home encounters, and a recent upturn in form for the visitors had them breathing down their opponent’s necks.
Southend had won four of their last six, including a 3-1 win over Grimsby in December, which was as many as they had managed in their previous 41 games before today, a testament to the progress Mark Moseley had made with his team in recent weeks.
However, Southend’s equally poor record at Blundell Park might have been one redeeming factor for The Mariners, with the Shrimpers winless in their last ten league visits to Cleethorpes.
It was evident that the pitch had seen better days, and both teams adopted a direct approach to try and play around the mud patches.
As expected in a fixture between the EFL’s bottom two clubs, the game started in a scrappy and unrefined fashion not helped by the adverse playing conditions.
Any early Southend penalty appeal and a deflected long-range effort from Matt Green made up the only moments worth noting in the opening 20 minutes of the game, as physicality won over finesse.
Both teams knew that three points were essential to the game, although both lacked an outlet in attack from which to create chances off and take control of the game in equal measure.
It was more of the same to start the second half, with the ball spending more time in the air than it did on the ground and clear-cut chances few and far between.
The hosts had more of the possession in the second period and tried to make the most of their set-pieces through Sam Habergham, but they did not have that extra bit of quality to find any openings.
One of the few openings in the game fell to Ashley Nathaniel-George of Southend whose deflected effort from close in looped just over James McKeown’s crossbar.
McKeown was making his 473rd appearance for the club, setting the record for the goalkeeper with the most appearances for The Mariners and it was an assured performance in net for the Grimsby skipper despite not having much to do.
The second half was marred by sloppy, unnecessary fouls which stemmed the flow of a game which was desperate for some fluency and a moment of inspiration to make spectators perk up in their seats.
Takeaways from the match
Not a game for the neutral
It was clear from minute one that this fixture was certainly one contested by two teams fighting for their Football League status and had amassed just ten wins between them from 46 games.
Neither side managed a pass accuracy above 60% for the game with both opting for an aerial approach which reaped few rewards.
Grimsby in a state of flux
These are strange times for the Lincolnshire club as, on the one hand, it is clear that new manager Paul Hurst wants to overhaul the squad this month to increase their chances of survival, but on the other hand, the takeover from a consortium involving Jason Stockwood and others has not yet gone through.
This leaves the new manager in an awkward position where he must find something in this current crop of players with which to produce results from, something he has struggled to do in his first three games in charge.
Stand out players
Grimsby Town – Max Wright
With the limited opportunities that the young winger had on the ball, he showed what he is capable of and he was probably the only Grimsby player that looked capable of creating something for the team.
Southend United – Shaun Hobson
The visitor's backline remained relatively untroubled throughout the game and that was down to in part the performance of Hobson who was confident and assertive in his defensive work.