SOUTHEND United were held to a 1-1 draw at Ebbsfleet United this afternoon.

Harry Cardwell headed the Shrimpers in front midway through the first half.

But a well-taken strike from Ebbsfleet substitute Dominic Poleon 14 minutes from time meant the game ended all square.

In-form Ebbsfleet threatened early on with Toby Edser cutting in from the left hand side before evading two defenders and having a low shot blocked by the legs of Blues goalkeeper Collin Andeng Ndi.

The Shrimpers, who were roared on by 1,795 fans, replied with Harry Cardwell heading Nathan Ralph’s left wing cross straight at Ebbsfleet shot-stopper Mark Cousins.

But the hosts were soon back on top with Ben Chapman slamming a 12 yard shot against the crossbar after Blues defender Ollie Kensdale had been dispossessed trying a fancy piece of skill on the edge of his own box.

Moments later, Dominic Samuel saw a long range shot pushed wide of the left post by Andeng Ndi but, just like at Solihull Moors on Tuesday night, Blues dug deep to survive the early spell of pressure before taking the lead.

With 21 minutes on the clock, Oli Coker delivered a dangerous free-kick from the left hand side and it was Cardwell who rose highest to score with a looping header from 12 yards.

Shortly after Cardwell’s 17th goal of the season, Bridge fired over from just outside the penalty area.

But, after surviving the scare, Ebbsfleet soon had huge shouts for a penalty waved away when Samuel went to ground after tangling with Kensdale.

However referee Lauren Impey opted to wave play on, much to the annoyance of an incensed home-side.

Ebbsfleet, who top the National League form-guide, soon threatened again with Edser firing over from 25 yards but at the start of the second half it was the Shrimpers who threatened.

Marcus Dackers did well to set Jack Bridge free down the left hand side before he rolled a pass into the path of Cardwell.

But, with just goalkeeper Mark Cousins left to beat, Cardwell went for power and saw his well struck shot blocked by the legs of the Ebbsfleet goalkeeper.

In a bid to freshen things up, Blues made a double change in the 55th minute with Henry Sandat replacing Cardwell in attack and James Morton coming on for Wes Fonguck in the centre of the park.

After the changes, Bilongo scuffed a shot when well placed in front of goal for the home-side before the Shrimpers replied with Cav Miley sending a low 30 yard shot straight at Cousins.

In reply, Southend goalkeeper Andeng Ndi did well to get down to his left hand side to stop Edser scoring but Ebbsfleet were not to be denied and equalised in the 76th minute, with Poleon on target for the 16th time this season.

The Ebbsfleet striker, who was with Blues as a youngster, worked his way past Kensdale before moving forward and scoring with an accurate 20 yard shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

The Shrimpers responded with Morton having a left footed shot impressively tipped over the crossbar by Cousins, only for a goal-kick to be given.

Blues made their third change in the 87th minute with Jason Demetriou replacing Jack Bridge down the left hand side.

And the visitors nearly won it late on in very bizarre fashion when Myles Kenlock sliced a long clearance from Andeng Ndi towards his own goal, only for Cousins to make a fine stop to ensure the game ended all square.

Blues remain 10th in the table and are now unbeaten in 12 games.