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Southend United 1, Bristol Rovers 1
KEVAN Hurst’s long range strike secured Southend United a 1-1 draw against Bristol Rovers at Roots Hall tonight.
The Shrimpers seemed to be heading for a fifth defeat in six games when Matt Harrold headed the Pirates in front.
But Hurst’s 25 yard shot ensured Phil Brown’s picked up a point.
The game had initially taken a while to get going and the first incident of real note did not come until the 23rd minute when centre-back Mark Phillips was forced to hobble off after a clash with Harrold.
Phillips was eventually replaced by Jack Payne in a change which saw Anthony Straker revert to left back, John White to right back and Adam Thompson move in to the middle of the back four.
Payne lined up on the left wing and soon created a chance for Freddy Eastwood who saw his well struck 25 yard shot parried wide of the left post by former Shrimpers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall.
Ryan Leonard then fired two long range efforts wide of the target before the Shrimpers had strong shouts for a penalty ignored on the stroke of half time when Payne appeared to be brought down inside the area by Lee Brown but referee Tim Robinson waved away the protests.
In reply, Rovers winger Oliver Norburn then sent a low 25 yard shot straight at Blues goalkeeper Daniel Bentley before the hosts hit back at the start of the second half with Leonard having another effort deflected over after hood approach play from Eastwood.
The resulting Hurst corner was headed wide of the right post from eight yards by Thompson when he should have at least got his effort on target.
Having survived the scare, Rovers replied by opening the scoring in the 51st minute with Harrold again on target against his former team.
The former Seevic student was picked out by a right wing cross from Michael Smith and guided a firm six yard header in to the back of the net as he netted for the fourth game in succession against his old team.
Three minutes after Harrold’s effort Blues made their second change of the net with Cauley Woodrow coming on to replace Eastwood in attack.
And, with 67 minutes on the clock, the hosts drew back level with a goal out of nothing as Hurst collected the ball in the centre of the park before advancing and sending a low, left footed shot from 25 yards in to the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Barry Corr soon sent an instinctive effort wide of the right post from 12 yards before, Brown had a low effort tipped wide of the left post by Bentley as play quickly switched back to the other end of the field.
The Shrimpers soon hit back with Hurst having another long effort tipped over by Mildenhall but they were unable to conjure up a late winner, meaning their winless streak extended to six matches.