SOUTHEND United returned to League Two action with a 1-1 draw at a wet Dagenham & Redbridge tonight.
The Shrimpers were beaten 2-0 by Premier League Hull City in the fourth round of the FA Cup at the weekend.
And Phil Brown’s side were again left feeling frustrated at a wet Victoria Road as the home-side’s Luke Norris cancelled out Kevan Hurst’s opener, meaning Blues were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Southend were initially on top and, with 13 minutes on the clock, Will Atkinson volleyed over from the edge of the penalty area after Ryan Leonard’s long throw had been headed out in to his path.
Moments later, Hurst’s well struck low shot was smothered at his near post by Dagenham goalkeeper Chris Lewington.
But the home side then began to get back in to the game and their top goalscorer Rhys Murphy wasted a great chance to score in the 31st minute when he charged through on goal only to see his shot blocked by the on-rushing Blues goalkeeper Daniel Bentley.
However, just three minutes later, Bentley had to be rescued by defender Luke Prosser who reacted sharply to clear after the shot-stopper had fumbled a low, 25 yard shot from Murphy.
Daggers then came close to scoring again just before the break when Zavon Hines’ curling 20 yard was impressively tipped over the crossbar by Bentley.
After the break, the home-side thought they had finally made the breakthrough in the 47th minute of the match when Murphy slid home a left wing cross from Hines but the effort was ruled out for offside.
Murphy then had a 20 yard shot smothered by Bentley before Blues hit back to open the scoring in the 53rd minute, with Hurst bagging his 11th goal of the season.
The ball was rolled in to path of the winger by Atkinson following a half cleared left wing corner from Ben Coker before he scuffed a low 16 yard shot in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Blues then almost doubled that lead when skipper Leonard saw a deflected shot smartly saved by Lewington before play soon switched back to the other end of the field with Norris shooting straight at Bentley from the edge of the penalty area.
But, with 68 minutes on the clock, Norris – who was making his first start for the hosts after signing on loan from Brentford – brought Dagenham back level with a deflected 20 yard shot which flew in to the top right hand corner of the net.
After the equaliser, Norris had another well struck shot from a similar distance parried to safety by Bentley and that sparked Blues boss Phil Brown in to action with a double change in the 71st minute.
The returning Lee Barnard came on for Barry Corr while Cauley Woodrow replaced Michael Timlin as Blues also changed to a 4-4-2 formation.
However, it was Dagenham who threatened next with the lively Norris having a well struck shot smartly saved by Bentley.
Conor Clifford then replaced Anthony Straker for Southend’s final change and he fired a deflected free-kick from 20 yards inches over the crossbar before an inswinging left wing delivery from Hurst flew inches past the right post right at the death.