GARY Waddock started his spell as Southend United’s caretaker manager with an entertaining 3-3 draw against Fleetwood Town at Roots Hall this afternoon.

A late Stephen Humphrys equaliser saw the Shrimpers pick up in their first point of their season in their first fixture following the departure of Kevin Bond.

Blues had been beaten in all six of their previous League outings but opened the scoring in the 17th minute, with Stephen McLaughlin bagging his first League goal in 12 months.

The fit-again winger – who had missed the last five games with an ankle problem – impressively curled a 25 yard free-kick into the left hand side of the net.

The Shrimpers remained on top with McLaughlin firing over from close range and Humphrys having a low, left footed shot blocked by the legs of Fleetwood goalkeeper Matt Gilks.

But, after surviving the scares, the visitors equalised when Josh Morris’ corner was headed down at the far post, enabling Jimmy Dunne to nod home from close range.

Fleetw then came close to taking the lead with Blues goalkeeper Mark Oxley getting down low to his right to stop Elvis Bwomono scoring an own goal.

Moments later, Oxley also did well to tip Kyle Dempsey’s curling 25 yard shot over the crossbar but Fleetwood stayed on top and regained the lead just before half-time when Morris tapped home after Oxley had parried out a long range shot from Danny Andrew.

Blues reacted strongly to going behind and drew back level just three minutes into the second half, with Humphrys firing home.

The goal again came from a free-kick and saw the Shrimpers striker send a long range effort into the right hand side of the South Stand net.

But Blues were level for just four minutes as the visitors soon regained the lead with Dempsey powerfully heading home a right wing cross from Lewie Coyle.

The Shrimpers’ caretaker boss Waddock responded by bringing Brandon Goodship on for Hutchinson but the visitors remained on too with Morris charging through before shooting wide of the right post.

Blues soon made a second change with Jason Demetriou replacing Andre Blackman and the hosts came close to equalising shortly after when Rob Kiernan headed McLaughlin’s left-wing free-kick just wide of the left post.

However, Fleetwood soon came close to adding a fourth with Wes Burns shooting inches wide of the left post from 20 yards and Dunne hitting the inside of the left post from a similar distance.

But Southend hit back to equalise in the 87th minute, with Humphrys bagging his second goal of the game.

The striker burst into the right hand side of the penalty area and unleashed a powerful right foot shot which squirmed under the body of Gilks and hit the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar to secure a welcome point for Blues.