NOEL Hunt and David Mooney bagged their first goals for Southend United to secure the Shrimpers an entertaining 2-2 draw at Coventry City tonight.

Having gone into the match without a goal in four games, the Irish strikers both netted before the break to hand Phil Brown’s side a half time.

But, after Jim O’Brien had seen a penalty saved by Blues goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, City centre-back Sam Ricketts headed home 18 minutes from time to ensure a topsy, turvy encounter ended even.

Southend looked far more threatening in the first half and, with just three minutes on the clock, Ryan Leonard sent a 25 yard shot fizzing just inches over the crossbar before Mooney drove an angled effort wide of the left post after neatly skipping past Reda Johnson.

In reply, Coventry were soon screaming for a penalty when former Shrimpers loanee Jacob Murphy went to ground inside the area while under pressure from John White but referee Darren Handley opted to wave play on, with the City winger looking to make the most of any possible contact.

However, the Shrimpers were soon back on top and, in the 11th minute, they wasted a golden chance to take the lead when Hunt’s left wing cross picked out an unmarked Leonard just eight yards from goal.

But the midfielder could only volley his effort into the ground, enabling goalkeeper Lee Burge to make a simple save.

Having survived the scare, Coventry immediately replied and came close to scoring themselves when Ruben Lameiras saw a well struck 20 yard shot parried to safety by Shrimpers goalkeeper Bentley before debutant Glen Rea cleared O’Brien’s deflected effort off the line from the resulting rebound.

Moments later, City centre-back Reda Johnson headed Lameiras’ right wing free-kick inches wide of the right post.

But, in the 31st minute, it was Southend’s turn to almost take the lead when Mooney stabbed the ball wide of the left post after Leonard had headed down a left wing free-kick from Ben Coker.

However, Coventry hit back to open the scoring just three minutes later with Johnson on target.

The towering centre-back powerfully volleyed the ball into the back of the net from 10 yards after Michael Timlin had headed Adam Armstrong’s initial effort from Lameiras’ right wing corner off the goal-line.

Blues were left furious by the flag-kick initially being awarded but their mood was lifted in the 36th minute, with Hunt heading home an equaliser.

The well worked leveller came from a well worked short corner which resulted in Ben Coker delivering a delightful inswinging cross from the right hand side that Hunt nodded in from close range.

But, five minutes later, things got even better for Blues with Mooney firing them in front with a penalty.

The spot-kick was given after Aaron Phillips had brought down Timlin in the box and Mooney made no mistake from 12 yards as his well struck effort, down the centre of the goal, was parried into the roof of the net by Burge.

Mooney’s effort secured the lead for the Shrimpers at half-time but, eight minutes in to the second period, Coventry were also awarded a spot-kick when Ricketts went to ground while under pressure from Leonard.

However, O’Brien was unable to take the opportunity as his stroked penalty was superbly pushed to safety by Bentley low down to his left hand side.

After standing firm, the Shrimpers made their first change of the night in the 64th minute with Myles Weston replacing Mooney in attack.

But Coventry were not to be denied for long and, with 72 minutes on the clock, they drew back level with Ricketts heading home Murphy’s left wing corner.

Blues boss Phil Brown responded by making two changes in quick succession with the returning Stephen McLaughlin replacing David Worrall and Anthony Wordsworth coming on for Will Atkinson.

However, Coventry continued to push forward in pursuit of a winner with the lively Murphy brushing aside White before having a low shot pushed wide of the right post by Bentley.

The Shrimpers shot-stopper then did superbly well to tip a swerving effort from Murphy over the crossbar and, right at the death, Bentley somehow pushed Marcus Tudgay’s low shot around the left post to secure a share of the spoils for his side.