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Southend United 2, Accrington Stanley 2
CAMERON Belford's late own goal saw Southend United squander two crucial points against Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
Blues fought back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 heading in to stoppage time at Roots Hall, thanks to goal from Luke Prosser and Elliot Benyon.
But, despite being reduced to 10 men for the final nine minutes, Stanley still salvaged a share of the spoils in stoppage time when Cameron kicked a low right wing corner from Kevin McIntyre in to his own goal.
In contrast to the dramatic conclusion, the game started slowly until Stanley winger Craig Lindfield charged down the right hand side and delivered an inviting cross which Mark Phillips did well to head clear before colliding with the left post.
That remained the game’s only action until the 33rd minute when Jamie Devitt fired straight at Blues’ Belford from 25 yards.
Devitt was not to be denied though and he handed Stanley the lead in the 41st minute.
The on loan Hull City latched on to a loose header from Prosser and unleashed a low, left footed shot from 20 yards which entered the back of the net via the inside of the left post.
Accrington then had a great chance to double their lead on the stroke of half time when a mistake from Phillips sent Devitt clear through on goal.
In an attempt to atone for his error, Phillips raced back and seemed to go into the back of Devitt who crashed to the floor inside the penalty area.
However, referee Danny McMermid opted to wave play on – much to the bemusement of the visitors.
Blues tried to make the most of the let off at the start of the second half with Jack Sampson firing a deflected 25 yard in to the gloves of Accrington goalkeeper Lee Nicholls.
Moments later, Stanley hit back with Peter Murphy sending a long range effort straight at Belford and Southend boss Paul Sturrock responded by making his first change of the afternoon in the 53rd minute with Ryan Hall replacing Sawyer.
And, six minutes later, Blues were forced in to a second substitution as Benyon replaced the injured Sampson in attack.
Following the second alteration, Hall flashed a long range shot just past the left post but, in the 65th minute, Southend did equalise as Prosser bagged his first goal of the season.
The defender collected a half cleared deep free-kick from Hall in the left hand side of the penalty area and superbly curled a 16 yard left footed shot in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
That handed Prosser his first ever goal at Roots Hall but, in the 68th minute, Stanley wasted a huge chance to retake the lead when McIntyre’s right wing corner was missed by Belford.
However, Aristote Nsiala could only stab the ball over an unguarded goal from inside the six yard box when he should have done better.
Southend soon replied with Hall teeing up Neil Harris but, after bringing the ball down well on his chest, the experienced striker saw his deflected volley fly wide of the left post from 12 yards.
Blues did not have to wait long before taking the lead though as Harris turned provider, delivering a left wing cross in to the path of Benyon.
The striker then composed himself before brilliantly guiding a left footed shot in to the top left hand corner of the net from 12 yards for his first Southend goal.
The effort angered the visitors after the referee opted to wave play on in the build up to the goal despite his linesman flagging for a foul.
Stanley manager Paul Cook was sent to the stands for his subsequent protests and, in the 81st minute, he was joined on the sidelines by Michael Liddle who was shown a straight red card for a mistimed tackle on Grant.
But the visitors were still able to secure a late draw when McIntyre’s low right wing corner was allowed to progress by David Martin before a shocked Belford could only kick the ball against the inside of the right post and in to his own goal.