CONOR Clifford’s low, long range strike on the stroke of half-time secured Southend United a 1-1 draw at Carlisle United this afternoon.
The midfielder netted just two minutes after Antony Sweeney had headed the Cumbrians in front.
And a point was the least Blues deserved from the clash at Brunton Park.
Carlisle, who have still yet to win this season, carved open the game’s first chance after just 12 minutes when on loan Ipswich Town striker Jack Marriott blazed over from 12 yards.
Marriott then prodded another effort wide of the left post before the Shrimpers hit back with skipper John White shooting just wide of the target after a long throw from Ryan Leonard had fallen in to his path.
Myles Weston then also fired just off target before Barry Corr saw his volley from Shaq Coulthirst’s left wing cross parried to safety by Carlisle goalkeeper Mark Gillespie.
But, having survived the scares, the home-side replied to open the scoring in the 43rd minute when Patrick Brough’s left wing cross was powerfully headed home from eight yards by Sweeney.
However, the Cumbrians were in front for just two minutes as Clifford immediately brought the Shrimpers back level when he drilled a low, 25 yard shot in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
After the break, Carlisle almost went back in front when Marriott charged through on goal only to see his effort blocked by Bentley.
And, after that, the Shrimpers began to pile on the pressure.
Goalkeeper Gillespie was therefore soon forced in to making a fine double save as he kept out Clifford’s initial effort before recovering well to keep out Coulthirst’s follow up effort.
Shortly after and, with 64 minutes on the clock, Blues boss Phil Brown made a double change as both David Worrall and Will Atkinson entered the action in place of Coulthirst and Kevan Hurst.
Ten minutes later, Lee Barnard also replaced Corr in attack and he almost helped get the Shrimpers in front when he latched on to a weak clearance from Gillespie.
His long range volley fell in to the path of Worrall whose scuffed effort was cleared off the goal-line by Paul Thirlwell.
Myles Weston then blazed over from six yards after being found by White’s deep right wing cross and, in the dying minutes, Worrall half volley was well saved by Gillespie to ensure the game ended all square.