Southend crawl away from the mire
Bristol City 0 Southend United 0 Attendance: 6,159
Sunday 26 March 1995
Those who preferred shopping to spectating got the best result, as Bristol City and Southend United, aided by a dead, crumbling pitch, combined to produce a dire mixture of hit-and-hope passing and desperate clearances. Southend, at least, will take consolation from a draw that extends their unbeaten run to five games, and the point that lifted them further away from the relegation vortex.
For Bristol City there was no such comfort. They began the day in 22nd position, the exact spot they "enjoyed" last November before they sacked Russell Osman and brought back Joe Jordan for a second term. Even the news of Swindon's defeat could not prevent a sour chorus of "Sack the Board" from a section of the fans.
Jordan will no doubt point to injuries and suspensions - the banned leading scorer Wayne Allison was missing yesterday - and he will certainly feel that luck has deserted his team just when they need it most. For even when they managed to get the ball in the net - Ian Baird turning home Junior Bent's overhead kick early in the second half - the strike was ruled offside.
But then a win would not have been merited by either side. True, Southend, masterfully prompted by an ageless Ronnie Whelan, looked more composed and cultured in the first half, but could not turn their possession into a worthwhile chance. The nearest they came was when the City defender Matt Bryant beat his own goalkeeper Keith Welch with an over-hit back- pass which shaved the post.
City's midfielders Brian Tinnion and Gary Owers worked manfully to get them back into the game, but Bent, as he does all too frequently, played like a man in a blindfold.
The second half improved in terms of chances, if not execution. Tinnion's drive was palmed away by the United keeper Simon Royce, but Rob Edwards volleyed over from less than six yards.
As the pitch continued to break up, as if on the last day of a Test match, control became even more of a lottery. Tony Battersby, Southend's on-loan signing from Sheffield United, created a couple of useful openings, but each time the pitch defeated his final efforts. Bristol's own pre-deadline acquisition from Arsenal, Mark Flatts, produced one good run and cross, but looked unlikely to make the same impact Andy Cole made when travelling the same route.
By the end even Whelan was hitting the underside of the stand roof with his shooting. The Bristol crowd drifted away in resigned mood, knowing their team face the play-off contenders Derby County, Tranmere Rovers and Reading in their last seven games. For City's assistant manager, John Gorman, once of Swindon, a second relegation looms.
Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Play-acting mystifies me. I was taught not to show pain
Phil Hughes dead: List of players who have tragically died on the cricket pitch
Nani transfer: No future for winger at Sporting Lisbon as club cannot afford his wages when loan deal with Manchester United runs out
This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
Tottenham Hotspur vs Partizan Belgrade match report: Spurs go through in Europa League - but pitch invaders grab the attention
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Competitive: Opilio Recruitment: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Bu...
£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning internet, do...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunity for someone l...
£35k - 42k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We have an exciting oppo...