Southend United 1 Shrewsbury Town 1 - Report and pictures
[gallery] Shrewsbury Town took a welcome point from Roots Hall as Paul Hurst began his Salop reign with a 1-1 draw at Southend, writes Lewis Cox from Roots Hall.
Two goals in an entertaining first-half split the spoils as Town halted a run of four league defeats - but are still bottom without a win in 11 in all competitions.
It wasn't the simplest of squad selections for the ex-Grimsby man. Salop took just four available defenders to Roots Hall. Suspension and injury put paid to Ryan McGivern, Olly Lancashire, Joe Riley and Jack Grimmer's chances.
There was a starting spot for the recalled Dom Smith, who only returned from Barrow in the week. While Salop named no defenders on their substitutes bench.
For all of the talk about which system that Hurst would utilise in his first outing as Salop boss, the first goal of his reign could hardly have been sweeter.
One of the new boss's main tasks was to stop Salop's rot of conceding the first goal in games. Town had conceded first on the last 12 occasions - dating back to August 27.
It came from the most unlikely of sources. A Junior Brown free-kick was not properly cleared and skipper Adam El-Abd - not known for crashing them in from distance - leathered a 30-yard half-volley into the top corner.
It really was a spectacular sight.
Before the travelling contingent behind the goal could catch their breath, Town had cracked the woodwork in search of a second.
Ivan Toney burst forward confidently on the right flank and unleashed a swerving drive which found the foot of the opposite post.
Salop were enjoying their time in Essex, largely controlling things and didn't look in danger of being carved open by the hosts, who had only created from set pieces.
But a decent bit of creative play saw former West Brom forward Simon Cox jink a fine reverse ball into Stephen McLaughlin who drilled through Leutwiler.
The second period proved a much cagier affair. For all of the entertaining attacking action of a lively first-half, the second was tight with defenses coming out on top.
But the 'battening down the hatches' approach will encourage Hurst, and his defensive responded greatly. Southend had more of the play and, particularly towards the latter stages, laid siege on the Salop goal - planting numerous crosses into the box.
Leutwiler's defenders, and the shot-stopper himself, dealt well with the high balls as Salop went away very pleased with their most welcome point.
10 - Marc-Antoine Fortune does well on the left, gets a deflected cross in which flies across six-yard box and behind for a corner. Flag kick similarly dangerous but drops behind.
13 - Jason Demetriou let's fly from right-back but Jayson Leutwiler claims after originally spilling. Hosts then appeal vocally for a penalty as Fortune trips over Adam El-Abd but nothing doing.
26 - SALOP GOAL - I can't believe what I've just seen. Salop contingent are scratching their eyes as Adam El-Abd pings a 25-yard first-time half-volley into the top corner. A Junior Brown free-kick was recycled for the big man to leather home - a stunning goal.
27 - Shots flying in from all over! Roots Hall has barely calmed itself down as Ivan Toney unleashed another bullet from distance. This time from the right flank, the shot swerves and crashes of the left post.
37 - Decent strike from Louis Dodds. Left-footed from 25-yards on the half-volley, dipping just yards over the top of Mark Oxley's angle.
39 - SOUTHEND GOAL - First time Southend have really carved Salop apart from open play as Simon Cox plays a delicate reverse ball to Stephen McLaughlin who powers a drilled finish through Jayson Leutwiler's legs.
57 - Substitute Andy Mangan, who has just come on, drives at the home defence on the left flank, cuts inside but drags his low drive wide of the near post.
85 - Big late chance in the context of things for the hosts. A floated ball in is header across the Town penalty box and wide at the back post by Fortuné - Dom Smith did enough to put the forward off.
88 - Handbags in front of the dugout turned nasty between Cox and Toney. Referee Chris Sarginson dealt with it well, booking both forwards for a bit of shoving.
Man of the match
Adam El-Abd - Screamer of an opener for the returning skipper who defended well. Goal of his life. 7/10
Position in the table
24th (11 points from 16 games)
Southend United (4-4-2):
Oxley, Demetriou, Coker, Ferdinand (c), Thompson, Atkinson (McGlashan, 64), Wordsworth, Leonard, McLaughlin (O'Neill, 79), Cox, Fortune (Williams, 88).
Subs not used: Smith, White, King, Inniss
Shrewsbury Town (4-5-1):
Leutwiler, Smith, El-Abd ©, Sadler, Brown; Deegan, Ogogo, Black (O'Brien, 85), Sarcevic (Mangan, 56); Dodds, Toney
Subs not used: Halstead, Leitch-Smith, Moha, Waring, Ebanks-Blake
Attendance: 7,321 (204 from Shrewsbury)
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
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