Southend Utd 0 Preston 0: Nugent fails to find way past Flahavan

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The Independent Online

If that victory on Tuesday night ranked as one of Southend's greatest performances, then this one, against a strong-looking Preston, served as a prompt to where their priorities should lie. Steve Tilson's Southend know that performances like the one against Manchester United, rather than this one, will be needed to avoid an immediate return to League One.

Preston began the game with a confidence that came from winning five of their last six matches. Their England Under-21 international David Nugent was the closest to opening the scoring with a sublime lob which grazed the top of Darryl Flahavan's net. Nugent was threatening to pilfer the limelight and the watching Premiership scouts' attention from the quiet Freddy Eastwood. However, a 20-yard shot, on the half-hour, that cannoned off the crossbar was a reminder of his abilities.

Preston manager Paul Simpson had made just one change bringing in Danny Dichio, and the gangly much-travelled forward provided constant service for his strike partner Nugent.

Preston were the sharper side at the restart, continuing to control possession. They did find a way past Flahavan but Nugent's header from a Paul McKenna cross was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper by the would-be goalscorer. Flahavan's defiance led to a brief period of Southend pressure. Efe Sodje's shot, in a crowded penalty area, was clawed away by Carlo Nash.

Simpson brought on Patrick Agyemang for Dichio to protect him from getting sent off after he petulantly squared up to his marker Sodje. Southend were sinking further and further into their own half and seemed satisfied with the point. Simpson replaced Nugent, who was anonymous after his impressive first-half exploits, as Preston continued to huff and puff but like Rooney and Ronaldo, could not find a way past Flahavan.

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