REPORT | Southend United 1 Charlton 1

George Jones reports from Roots Hall

Andrew Crofts’ 89th minute equaliser earned Charlton a draw away at Southend United on New Year’s Eve.

The goal, which crashed in off the underside of the crossbar, came at the conclusion of an entertaining second period, in which home goalkeeper Ted Smith had made a string of fine saves and both sides had hit the goal frame.

Simon Cox had put the hosts – now unbeaten in 12 league matches – in front after 24 minutes but Crofts’ first goal for the club ensured that the Addicks took home a share of the spoils.

In terms of team news, Aribo was handed his first start by Manager Karl Robinson, who made two changes to his starting XI. 

The midfielder replaced Johnnie Jackson, who missed out with a hamstring injury, while Adam Chicksen also came in, in place of Ademola Lookman.

It was a tight start to the match, with both sides winning an early corner apiece, both of which came to nothing.

Though chances had been at a premium, Charlton were enjoying some decent periods of possession inside the Southend half. Aribo was at the heart of most of it and he twice fed Morgan Fox on the left, with the full-back winning his side a corner on both occasions.

From the second flag-kick, the game’s opening chance arrived. Aribo’s delivery was only half cleared and Nicky Ajose volleyed the loose ball into the arms of home stopper Ted Smith.

A brilliant, 30-yard snapshot from United’s Stephen McLaughlin whizzed inches wide of Dillon Phillips’ far post a couple of minutes later and, on 17 minutes, Josh Magennis tested Smith with a low drive.

The home side grabbed the lead on 24 minutes. After Ezri Konsa headed a Southend corner clear, it was knocked back into the danger area where Cox picked it up and fired an on-the-turn strike into the corner of the net.

Ulvestad saw a shot deflected wide as the Addicks looked for a quick response and they then carved out their best chance to date. Fox found Aribo on the edge of box and, after skipping away from his man, he poked a shot towards the far post that Smith palmed behind for a corner.

Magennis improvised to steer an Ajose cross towards goal, but over the bar, with 41 minutes played and, at the other end, Phillips made a good save from an Anthony Wordsworth strike.

The hosts held a one-goal lead at the break but the Addicks made a quick start to the second period. Magennis teed up Fredrik Ulvestad to shoot wide inside the opening minute.

Smith tipped a Teixeira effort over the bar after the defender had got onto the end of Ajose’s deep free-kick and, at the other end, the defender then made an important interception when Adam Thompson tried to thread a teammate in on goal.

Southend came within the width of the post of making it two just after the hour mark. An intelligent pass from Cox freed McLaughlin on the left and he cut inside before curling the ball against the frame of the goal.

Grateful for their let off, Charlton then came close to getting an equaliser. Konsa played a one-two with substitute Jordan Botaka and squared for Ulvestad, who saw a shot well tipped over the bar by Smith.

The home goalkeeper excelled himself again moments later. An Aribo corner made its way to the far post, Fox met it and aimed for the corner but the stopper did superbly to tip it over his crossbar.     

Charlton did beat Smith on 70 minutes but the frame of his goal came to the rescue. Aribo played a great one-two to advance into the box and cut inside before whipping a delicious strike against the bar.

The opportunity came in the Addicks’ best spell of the game and was so unlucky for the full, league debutant, who had impressed in the middle of midfield.

Replacement Karlan Ahearne-Grant had a free-kick blocked by the Southend wall 10 minutes from time, as Charlton continued to look for a leveller.

Time was beginning to run out for the visitors and Southend threatened themselves through Will Atkinson, who forced Phillips into a good stop, and Marc Antoine-Fortune, who headed wide from close range.

The Addicks kept going, though, and on 89 minutes their equaliser did arrive. Aribo drove into the box and sent in a drilled cross that the incoming Crofts swept into the net via the underside of the crossbar.

Five minutes of stoppage time were indicated by the fourth official but neither side were able to grab the winner and the game ended all square.

Southend United: Smith, Wordsworth, Thompson, Timlin, Cox (Ranger 73), McLaughlin, Atkinson, Fortune, Leonard, Demetriou, Ferdinand (c).

Subs(not used): Bexon, White, O'Neil, King, McGlashan, Bridge.

Goal: Cox 24

Booked: Cox 66 (foul on Konsa)

Charlton: Phillips, Konsa, Bauer, Teixeira, Fox (Ahearne-Grant 77), Crofts (c), Aribo, Ulvestad (Umerah 86), Chicksen, Ajose (Botaka 65), Magennis.

Subs(not used): Mitov, Lennon, Johnson, Foley.

Goal: Crofts 89

Booked: Bauer 48 (hand ball), Fox 71 (foul on McLaughlin), Umerah 90+4 (foul on Thompson)

Referee: Mark Haywood

Att: 10,329 (1,847 from Charlton)

Read Time: 5 mins