Southend United hosted Stevenage in a forgettable 0-0 League Two fixture this afternoon.
It was the visitors’ 16th clean sheet of the season, the joint most in the league, whereas for Southend it was the 22nd time they had failed to score in a match in all competitions.
With just eleven games left, the Blues now find themselves two points adrift of safety having played three more games than Barrow, who sit just above them.
Story of the match
Three points adrift of safety whilst having played two more games than your opponents – Southend knew nothing less then a win would do, and the Blues started with malicious intentions.
Controlled possession and swift passing seemed to be Mark Molesley's game plan from the get-go and Simeon Akinola almost benefited from it straight away.
After a brilliant cross to the back post, the number nine was left unmarked but could not keep his shot below the bar. It should have been 1-0 within the opening ten minutes.
Nathan Ferguson almost added to his ever-growing list of wonder goals with an excellent freekick just minutes later, but an outstretched Jamie Cumming palm just managed to tip the shot over the bar.
As time went on, Southend’s pressure became even more prevalent. The game was being played within the visitor’s half while Molesley’s men tried desperately to create something of worth but, despite the control, chances were starting to become slim.
A goalmouth scramble involving Akinola and a goal line clearance was the pick of the bunch when it came to remaining half chances for the Blues.
Stevenage started to capitalise on Southend’s passive possession and created their only real opportunity of the half just five minutes before the whistle.
Elliot List picked up the ball on the edge of the area and fired a low shot towards the bottom corner. The attempt managed to make its way through various bodies but just flew past the far post.
The second half blessed the match with various different injuries. Timothee Dieng was down for three minutes before being made to wear a headband for the rest of the game whilst Danny Newton had to be replaced by Luke Norris due to a pulled muscle.
This consequently resulted in the game struggling to get into a stride. As the 60th minute approached, it felt as if the second half had not really kicked off yet, and for a struggling Southend side, time was not something they could afford to waste.
With 20 minutes left of the game, Stevenage were controlling possession. No chances of real threat had been created but the tale was the opposite of the first half, it was now the Boro who were knocking on the door.
Apart from one shot on target in the 80th minute, Alex Revell’s men really were not creating any chances, and as the clock slowly ticked away it seemed as if the match was destined to be goalless.
There was one final opportunity for the hosts as substitute Ricky Holmes fired high of the target with the final kick of the game despite being just yards away from the goal. A chance to make yourself a hero squandered.
Both teams walked off the pitch engulfed in an aura of disappointment. For the Blues, another chance missed to earn a crucial three points that would lift them further away from a likely relegation. For Stevenage, a poor performance against a side that, on paper, they should be beating.
Yet another afternoon of disappointment at Roots Hall.
Man of the match
None of the players deserve appraisal by any means, but captain John White was an ever-present force in the heart of the defence.
A goal saving tackle and another vocal and dominant performance is enough to earn the centre back the man of the match award, but considering the outcome of the match, it is hardly something he will look back on with pride.