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Accrington Stanley 1, Southend United 1
AN afternoon of conflicting fortunes for Southend United’s centre backs meant Phil Brown’s side had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Accrington Stanley yesterday.
With the influential Rob Kiernan having been called back by his parent club Wigan Athletic on the eve of the game, plenty of attention was always going to given to Blues’ back four at the Crown Ground.
And that it exactly how it proved as Mark Phillips put Accrington in front with an own goal 63 minutes which his centre back partner Luke Prosser cancelled out with a firm header just 15 minutes later.
The Shrimpers made one change to their starting line-up for the game with Cauley Woodrow coming in to replace Barry Corr in attack.
And it was Woodrow who created the first chance of the game when the on loan Fulham forward set up Will Atkinson but the midfielder was unable to head home.
Moments later, Anthony Straker was also causing problems as he teed up Michael Timlin but his curling shot was well saved by Stanley goalkeeper Andrew Dawber.
Having survived the scares, Accrington then wasted a golden chance to take the lead in the 25th minute when Kal Naismith somehow header wide from six yards after good work from Michael Richardson.
The hosts soon went close again with Richardson this time carving open an opportunity for George Bowerman.
The striker cut inside and saw his first shot saved by Blues goalkeeper Daniel Bentley before he fired the resulting rebound over the crossbar from just inside the box.
That ensured the game remained goalless at the break but the Shrimpers should have gone n front after 50 minutes when Kevan Hurst played in Michael Timlin who somehow saw his shot from six yards saved by Dawber.
In a bid to get on top, Seasiders boss Brown soon made his first change of the game with Freddy Eastwood coming on to replace Straker.
But Accrington were still able to hit back and open the scoring in the 63rd minute when Lee Naylor’s free kick found its way to the back post before striking Phillips and entering the back of the net.
Three minutes after the goal, Corr came on for Woodrow up front for the Shrimpers and the Irishman soon saw a six yard header superbly saved by Dawber.
However, the impressive Stanley keeper was finally beaten in the 78th minute when Hurst’s corner to the near post was met by Prosser who scored his third goal of the season.
But Accrington immediately pressed again after the equalizer and somehow could not find a way through from two goalmouth scrambles which saw Southend defending for their lives.
By this time, Jack Payne had already replaced Timlin in midfield for Blues who came close to winning the game late on when Phillips had a 25 yard shot tipped wide of the target by Dawber.
That ensured the game ended all square, despite late pressure from the Shrimpers, who end 2013 still in the League Two play-off positions.