Southend United 0-0 Crawley Town: Time is running out for Blues amidst Phil Brown return
NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Southend United manager Phil Brown looks on during the Sky Bet League One match between Northampton Town and Southend United at Sixfields on January 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Southend United drew 0-0 to Crawley Town in Phil Brown’s return to Roots Hall.

The EFL League Two match was crucial for this seasons relegation battle with the Blues sitting 23rd in the league.

The result leaves the Shrimpers four points adrift of safety with five games left, including a crucial fixture against Colchester United.

Story of the match

Southend almost opened the scoring within four minutes as Portsmouth loanee Reece Hackett-Fairchild’s back post header went wide of the target despite his shot coming from just a few yards out.

The second chance of the game also fell to the Shrimpers but was not anywhere near as clear cut.

After capitalising on a defenders under hit pass, veteran Greg Halford attempted an audacious chip from 30-yards out and; usurpingly, keeper Glenn Morris collected with ease.

Crawley striker James Tilley was only denied by Tyler Cornder on the line in the 12th minute as his left footed attempt beat the keeper but did not get past the well positioned number six.

As the clock approached the 20th minute, both teams were still acting as if it was a game of basketball. End to end, chance after chance, but nothing of significance.

Tilley tried to open the scoring following a fascinating solo run; however, his effort flew wide of the post. A poor attempt which overshadowed his silky build up play.

The intensity was astronomical in comparison to the previous 40 Blues games, it was clear that Brown had installed a sense of urgency which was being mirrored by the visitors.

Despite such a high tempo, chances became a rarity with a Ricky Holmes blocked shot standing out as one of the only memorable remaining attempts of the first half.

The start of the second half was met with the closest chance of the game as Nathan Ferguson struck the left post following his effort from outside the box.

Forgetting a poor free kick from Tom Clifford in the 62nd minute, chances were, yet again, becoming slim despite the high tempo – that is until Hackett-Fairchild was gifted a one-on-one in the 69th minute.

After a miss kick from Joe McNerney, the Portsmouth loanee found himself just having Morris to beat but shot straight at the fast-approaching keeper.

Ashley Nadeson's effort was somehow denied by Mark Oxley who got down in time to parry the ball despite the strikers shot coming from just yards away.

Just minutes later, Crawley were somehow denied an opener again as a goal mouth scramble just fell in favour of the hosts.

A penalty shout from substitute Brandon Goodship was denied by the referee in the 87th minute in what was Southend's final, desperate attempt of conjuring a breakthrough.

As the full time whistle went, a sense of despair loomed over Roots Hall. Failure to win leaves the Blues almost no time at all to escape the relegation zone.

Man of the match

Tom Clifford was superb in defence, defending resiliently and instinctively whilst bombing down the left flank.

A few crosses were miss hit but, admits the other performers, he stood out the most.

Honourable mentions must go to Nathan Ferguson and James Tilley but neither of those players contributing towards a goal has cost them the MOTM award.