Goalless draw at Roots Hall
Southend United 0
Bristol Rovers 0
Rovers gained a hard earned point from a goalless draw at Southend this afternoon.
The draw came about as a result of two outstanding second half saves by goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall, woeful finishing by the home side, and a little bit of luck.
There was no shortage of effort and commitment, but the level of performance wasn’t quite up to what it has been in recent weeks and the point gained was more than a little fortuitous.
Manager John Ward made two changes for the game, recalling skipper Tom Parkes in place of the injured Danny Woodards and Oumare Tounkara in place of Joe Anyinsah.
There was a tentative opening from both sides and neither goalkeeper had a shot to deal with in the opening ten minutes.
Home custodian Daniel Bentley did have to react quickly to hold on to a flick on from Mark McChrystal, though it could hardly be classed as a chance for the central defender.
Former Rovers loanee saw his free kick drift wide of the upright on 19 minutes and the home side created two further chances just afterwards.
Ryan Leonard glanced a header straight at Steve Mildenhall when getting on the end of a cross from the left, while a shot from Freddy Eastwood flew over the crossbar.
Eastwood then drilled a free kick into a two man Rovers defensive wall, while at the other end Bentl.ey held on to a Fabian Broghammer free kick underneath his crossbar.
A Barry Corr effort was blocked by a packed Rovers defence and a weak Ryan Cresswell trickled through to Mildenhall before the best chance of the half was fashioned in the final minute of the half.
Sean Clohessy crossed from the right and central defender Cresswell powered a header towards goal but saw his effort just pass the upright.
The home side were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half, and Corr hit a shot wide after picking up a loose ball on the edge of the area following a challenge by Parkes on Eastwood.
Britt Assombolonga headed wide when well placed, and unmarked, and just a minute later, Corr did exactly the same, leaving manager Phil Brown tearing his hair out on the sidelines.
Southend continued to dominate possession and must have known it wasn’t to be their day when Mildenhall pulled off an outstanding double save with 77 minutes on the clock.
The shot stopper dived to his right to keep out a shot from Eastwood, and was quick enough to react to the follow up effort from Assombolonga.
Rovers were at their best in the final ten minutes and Parkes headed just wide from a Michael Smith cross, but they might have fared better following a move down the right.
Ollie Norburn decided to slip the ball through to Parkes, when he might well have shot himself, and although the skipper played in Joe Anyinsah, he was tackled as he was about to shoot.
The ball went behind for a corner, from which Parkes saw his shot blocked by the home defence.
Team: Steve Mildenhall, Michael Smith, Clayton McDonald, Mark McChrystal, Lee Brown, Tom Hitchcock (Joe Anyinsah, 64), Tom Parkes, Ollie Norburn, Fabian Broghammer (Eliot Richards, 62), Ryan Brunt (Ollie Clarke, 62), Oumare Tounkara.
Substitutes: Jim Paterson, Mitch Harding, Conor Gough, Tom Lockyer
Southend United: Daniel Bentley, Sean Clohessy, Tamika Mkandawire, Ryan Cresswell, Anthony Straker, Ryan Leonard (Kevan Hurst, 88), Marc Laird, Matt Lund, Britt Assombalonga, Freddy Eastwood (Gavin Tomlin, 78), Barry Corr.
Substitutes: Mark Phillips, Chris Barker, Ted Smith, Seedy Njie, Mitch Pinnock
Yellow Card: Matt Lund
Referee: Roger East