Southend United drew 0-0 with Salford City in an EFL League Two match at Roots Hall.
A valuable point moves the Blues away further away from the relegation zone with Barrow and Grimsby Town losing elsewhere. As for Salford, a point away to 22nd in the league is not what they would have hoped for heading into the game.
Story of the match
As the sun glistened down on a patchy Roots Hall, the stage was set for a David versus Goliath esque fixture.
Southend had already slayed the giants that are Forest Green Rovers and Newport County this month, whilst Salford had just come off the back of a devastating defeat to Cheltenham Town midweek.
Speaking of games midweek, Nathan Ferguson was eager to recreate his jaw dropping spectacle of a strike, shooting from 25-yards out within the opening few minutes. The effort did not live up to his previous attempt however, sailing high and wide of the Ammies net.
The game quickly fell into a pattern that would remain throughout the first half, Salford dominating possession but creating little chances.
Southend were more than happy to park ten men behind the ball and let the Ammies attempt to break them down. It was a tactic that worked for Mark Molesly’s men, limiting the opposition to zero attempts on target in the opening 45 whilst also trying to catch Salford on the counter-attack.
It was a plan that created the first opportunity of the game as Emile Acquah was played through in the 29th minute. A clever disguised pass from Ferguson created a one-on-one opportunity, but goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky stood tall to deny him.
Acquah was presented with another chance ten minutes later, one that he really should have took. Following a cross from Ferguson, John White headed the ball back into a dangerous area where Acquah was lurking. The striker got his head to the ball but shot straight down the throat if Hladky from six yards out. If he shoots either side, it is a goal.
Manager Richie Wellens must have had stern words with his team at halftime as the Ammies created their first chance of the game just minutes into the second half.
Winger Ash Hunter picked up the ball on the wing and cut inside to create enough space to shoot from distance, but it was never going to trouble half time substitute Harry Seadon.
Midfielder Robbie Gotts was next to come close for the Ammies shooting from an acute angle; however, the shot was easily tipped over.
Southend responded to this ever-present pressure with a chance of their own. Ferguson’s low attempt from outside the box was blocked and then tipped away for a corner, but with the ball ricocheting around, it was unfortunate not to beat the keeper.
An acrobatic save from Seadon in the 70th minute was quickly followed by another stop denying Manchester United loanee Di’Shon Bernard.
Molesly tried to change the turn of the tide by bringing on Nile Ranger for his second debut for the club. The number 50’s return has been long awaited by Southend fans, but an injury which stopped the striker from walking properly forced an early shower.
The final chance of the game fell to Hunter who skewed his shot wide of the goal despite being uncontested.
With both sides creating clear chances, 0-0 seems a strange result, but a draw reflects the story of the match with Southend creating more chances in the first half and Salford dominating the second.
Man of the match
Ferguson followed up his wonder strike from midweek with a dominating display in midfield today.
The number 44 was the man behind ever opportunity in the first half and was robust and assertive in the second.
He was unlucky not to get an assist after playing through Acquah in the 29th minute, but his defensive duties proved today that Southend have more than just a brilliant finisher in the centre of the pitch.