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No end to victory drought for Southend United following draw with Bristol Rovers
SOUTHEND United’s winless streak was extended to six matches with a 1-1 draw against Bristol Rovers at Roots Hall on Friday night.
Matt Harrold’s inevitable token goal against the Shrimpers put the Pirates in front before a screaming long range shot from Kevan Hurst rescued a share of the spoils.
And, as a result, there were again mixed fortunes for manager Phil Brown. The positive focused on the way Blues responded to going a goal behind. They were able to take something from a game they have trailed in.
Previously the Shrimpers have crumbled and have been unable to find the strength of character to get back in to a match. But Hurst’s shot secured Southend a share of the spoils on Friday night and ensured they did not end up empty-handed.
On the opposite flank to Hurst, Jack Payne also entered the action as an early substitute and showed his potential with a lively display on the left-hand side.
The youngster showed his enthusiasm and talent on the ball and was constantly keen to get involved in the game.
Defensively he did switch off a couple of times to allow his opposing winger the chance to work his way into dangerous positions.
But Payne will learn from such situations and has already shown this season that he has the potential to push his way into the first team on a more regular basis.
However, despite his display and those of Kevan Hurst and the ever improving Ryan Leonard, there was also plenty to be frustrated about for the Shrimpers.
The most obvious one of all was the result as Bristol Rovers arrived at Roots Hall without an away point to their name all season but the Pirates were able to expose Blues’ defensive frailties to get in front.
Subsequently, the Shrimpers have gone six games without keeping a clean sheet and those problems at the back could soon intensify.
For not only did Mark Phillips limp off with a groin injury which has yet to be diagnosed but his centre-back partner Luke Prosser was also shown another yellow card and is now one booking away from a one-match ban.
If that was to arrive soon while Phillips was still out injured then boss Brown would be left with just three senior defenders in his squad.
And, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, there lies the biggest problem facing the Shrimpers at the moment. It is plain to see that Blues are crying out for reinforcements and require more character, leadership, creativity and quality.
Right now, the Shrimpers are capable of playing pretty, passing football across the centre of the park, but not always in areas which will threaten.
Clear cut goalscoring chances therefore remain few and far between – much to the frustration of Freddy Eastwood and Barry Corr – with the team’s last few goals being impressive individual efforts or strikes from long range.
But as Brown bids to turn around his team’s fortunes his hands remain firmly tied behind his back due to the club’s fragile financial position which means a transfer embargo remains in place.
The Shrimpers chief is able to make just one more signing due to the restrictions he faces and while they remain it is hard to see how his team will progress.
The situation shows no signs of easing either as Blues travel to second-placed Oxford United on Saturday before also heading to Burton Albion and then hosting high-flying Fleetwood Town.
Southend will be hoping to end their winless streak during that run of tough-looking tests. However, for that to happen big improvements will have to be made. And, right now, it remains very hard to see how that can actually happen.