SOUTHEND United completed their pre-season preparations with a 1-1 draw at Gillingham tonight.

Isaac Hutchinson fired the Shrimpers into the lead with a clinical close range finish at the Priestfield Stadium.

But Gills striker Mikael Mandron headed home just before the break to ensure the game ended even.

Gillingham started brightly with Alex Jakubiak having an early effort ruled out for a foul before Mikael Mandron headed Mark Marshall’s right wing cross over the bar.

Marshall then dragged a low shot wide of the far post before Blues hit back with Hutchinson firing over from long range.

However, Hutchinson was not to be denied for long as he opened the scoring with a clinical close range finish in the 22nd minute after good work down the left hand side from Charlie Kelman.

The Gills replied with former Shrimpers midfielder Stuart O’Keefe heading wide of the right post from 12 yards before Max Ehmer saw his close range effort impressively kept out by Blues’ shot-stopper Nathan Bishop.

However, the hosts equalised in the 40th minute when O’Keefe’s driven cross from the left hand side evaded Bishop and enabled Mandron to head home via the underside of the crossbar.

After the break, Hutchinson saw a low 20 yard shot well saved by Jack Bonham before the Gills goalkeeper also pushed an effort from Theo Robinson wide of the right post.

Substitute Stephen McLaughlin then fired wide late on but neither side were unable to score a late winner as the game faded out.

The Shrimpers again included trialists Andre Blackman and Isaac Buckley Ricketts in their starting line-up while Ahmed Mohamed came on for the final half an hour.

Former Blues striker Norman Wabo also featured for Gills as a trialist in the second half.

Southend United: Bishop, Howard (Taylor 81), White, Kiernan, Blackman (Goodship 82), Buckley-Ricketts (McLaughlin 66), Hyam (Mantom 66), Yearwood (Mohamed 59), Hutchinson, Kelman (Humphrys 70), Robinson