ROTHERHAM United striker Freddie Ladapo bagged a second half equaliser to deny Southend United their first home League win of the season this afternoon.

Goals from Jason Demetriou and Sam Mantom had seen the Shrimpers cancel out an own goal from Rob Kiernan to take the lead.

But former Blues striker Ladapo’s effort on the hour mark meant the game ended all square.

Rotherham came close to taking the lead when Ladapo saw an early effort pushed to safety by Blues goalkeeper Nathan Bishop.

Moments later, the Shrimpers hit back with Demetriou firing over from 20 yards and Stephen McLaughlin heading an inviting Brandon Goodship well wide.

Mantom’s weak header, from a McLaughlin cross, was then easily held by Rotherham goalkeeper Daniel Iversen.

But the Millers fought back and broke the deadlock in the 30th minute following a goalmouth scramble from a poorly hit Jake Hastie corner from the right hand side.

Blues failed to clear the delivery at the near post before the ball creeped over the line with Kiernan appearing to get the final touch.

However, the Shrimpers fought back after the break and equalised from the penalty spot in the 49th minute, with Demetriou on target.

The spot-kick was the first Blues had been given this season and came after Chiedozie Ogbene had been penalised for handball after Harry Lennon had just failed to make the most of a close-range volley.

Demetriou made the most of the opportunity as he rolled his penalty slightly to the right hand side of the South Stand with Iversen diving in the opposite direction.

And, just three minutes later, Blues went in front when a long ball forward from Elvis Bwomono was superbly controlled by Sam Mantom who strode forward before sliding a controlled left footed shot into the left hand side of the net.

However, the Shrimpers were in front for just eight minutes as, just seconds after Jake Hastie had rattled the crossbar with a well struck effort, the visitors drew back level with Ladapo on target following poor defending from the hosts.

Clark Robertson’s ball back into the box exposed the Shrimpers rearguard and, with Bishop on his line, Ladapo darted in to tap home his 11th goal of the season.

Blues replied with McLaughlin sending a bouncing volley against the top of the crossbar before the hosts were forced into making their first change of the afternoon in the 75th minute with Isaac Hutchinson replacing the injured Mantom.

Eight minutes later came another enforced change as McLaughlin hobbled off and was replaced by Simon Cox before Goodship also went off injured in the 88th minute and was replaced by Layton Ndukwu.

However, neither side were able to conjure up a late winner meaning Blues will go through 2019 without winning a Saturday game at Roots Hall which kicked off at 3pm.