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Southend United 2, Barnet 2
KEVAN Hurst’s late volley secured Southend United a 2-2 draw with struggling Barnet at Roots Hall this afternoon.
The Bees, who have yet to win this season, raced in to a 2-0 lead at the start of the second half.
But Blues fought back to grab a point with Freddy Eastwood slamming a home a penalty before Hurst netted his first Southend goal just six minutes from time.
Southend had earlier began brightly, forcing three corners inside the opening six minutes and they almost opened the scoring when Gavin Tomlin worked his way past three Barnet defenders before seeing his well struck left foot shot parried to safety by Barnet goalkeeper Graham Stack.
The former Plymouth shot stopper then kept out a close range header from Britt Assombalonga after Ryan Cresswell had nodded down a deep free-kick from Hurst but the visitors began to get in to the game.
As a result, Dave Stephens soon fired over after Mark Byrne’s right wing corner had been cleared in to his path before a low, 25 yard free-kick from Byrne was parried to safety by Blues goalkeeper Paul Smith.
Having survived the double scare, Southend soon hit back and hit the crossbar twice in three minutes.
First, Hurst sent a screaming 20 yard shot crashing against the wood-work and Tomlin was then also denied when his deflected shot from a similar distance struck the top of the bar before bouncing to safety.
In reply, Barnet striker Jake Hyde then had a goalbound effort brilliantly blocked by Cresswell before the hosts hit back with Eastwood firing inches over the North Bank net from the edge of the penalty area.
However, it was the Bees who started the second half strongly and they opened the scoring in the 54th minute when Holmes charged forward and slammed a superb 30 yard shot in to the top left hand corner of the net.
After the goal, sections of the home support in the North Bank began to protest against Blues chairman Ron Martin.
But their mood was almost lifted when Cresswell headed in a right wing corner from Hurst, only for the officials to rule that the flag kick went out of play on its way in to the area.
That boosted Barnet and they doubled their lead in the 65th minute, with Holmes this time the provider.
The former Prittlewell School pupil charged in to the left hand side of the penalty area before delivering a low cross which Hyde fired home at the near post.
However, Blues got back in to the game two minutes later when referee Brendan Malone pointed to the spot after adjudging Barry Fuller to have handled the ball inside the area.
That enabled Eastwood to step forward and powerfully slam the subsequent penalty high in to the centre of the net.
Shorty after the striker’s second goal of the season, Blues made their first substitution of the afternoon with David Martin replacing Anthony Straker.
But Barnet continued to threaten and almost made it 3-1 in the 78th minute when Jamal Lowe crashed a 20 yard shot against the foot of the left post.
Blues capatalised on the let off by drawing back level six minutes later, when Hurst latched on to a loose ball inside the penalty area and volleyed a 12 yard shot in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Southend then almost went in front when Luke Prosser’s shot was cleared off the line by Fuller but, in the dying seconds, Barnet also wasted a golden chance to score when an unmarked Lowe somehow fired wide of the left post from inside the six yard box.