The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Chris Phillips

SOUTHEND man­ager Phil Brown was left hurt­ing af­ter the Shrimpers needed a late equliser to snatch a draw with strug­gling Port Vale at Roots Hall.

An­thony Wordsworth’s 83rd­minute ef­fort can­celled out Chris Ea­gles’ opener for Vale.

But Brown, whose sev­en­th­placed side are now four points be­hind the play-offs, was dis­ap­pointed by Southend’s be­low-par per­for­mance.

“I just can’t ac­cept the goal they scored,” fumed Brown.

“I have four or five lads who are above six foot, plus the goal­keeper, but Chris Ea­gles scores with his head.

“I’m not sure how many goals Chris Ea­gles has got with his head but it can’t be many!

“The best foot­ball we played came af­ter we con­ceded but if it takes some­body to score against us for us to play our best foot­ball, then we have the wrong men­tal­ity.

“The play­ers dug deep to get some­thing from the game but to not get three points hurts us.

“Too many of our top play­ers were off and Si­mon Cox has put his hand up.

“You would ex­pect him to fin­ish the chance he had and if we had scored first, their con­fi­dence would have nose-dived.”

Cox’s golden op­por­tu­nity to score came in the 13th minute, when the striker some­how fired wide of the right post af­ter be­ing picked out by Ja­son Demetriou’s right-wing cross.

Vale hit back with Cal­lum Guy hav­ing a goal­bound shot bril­liantly blocked by a slid­ing Adam Thom­son be­fore Sam Fo­ley’s header from Jerome Thomas’ cor­ner was nod­ded off the line by Demetriou. How­ever, the vis­i­tors made the break­through in the 78th minute when Ea­gles headed home a Fo­ley free-kick.

But Southend fought back just five min­utes later, with Wordsworth slid­ing home a left­wing cross from the im­pres­sive Ben Coker for his tenth goal of the sea­son.

Yet Vale boss Michael Brown was still happy to see his rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened side pick up a point.

“It was a fan­tas­tic, gritty per­for­mance from our boys,” said Brown, whose 22nd-placed out­fit have still yet to win in 2017.

“We lost a cou­ple of play­ers be­fore the game and an­other cou­ple in it so we did ever so well.

“It was very pleas­ing to take the lead but un­for­tu­nately it just wasn’t meant to be and we couldn’t hang on.

“But it was a fan­tas­tic away per­for­mance at a tough place against a team who are do­ing ever so well.

“It’s also great news that we’ve closed the gap on the teams above us.

“If you had of­fered me a draw be­fore the game I would have taken it but we didn’t play for a draw. “We played for the three points and try­ing to get a clean sheet but it wasn’t to be.”

PIC­TURES: South­ern News & Pic­tures

MAGNIFIC-ANT: An­thony Wordsworth turns in Southend’s lev­eller HIGHER: Southend’s Ryan Leonard wins this header

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