Southend Men’s 3s left it late to grab a deserved point against their arch rivals Old Southendians through returning midfield maestro Nick Porter.
Old Southendians 5XI 1 – 1 Southend 3XI Porter 66’
Southend started the match the brighter of the two sides, forcing the opposing ‘keeper into a number of reflex saves. Top scorer Mickey Walsh with his head in his hands on three separate occasions in close succession as he passed up guilt-edged chances to open his account in this game. Marcus Kiamil, in particular, was catching the eye with a range of incisive passes. A let-off for the home side who rallied and created several short corner opportunities which came to nothing. Veteran full-back Martin Allen saw green and was given his marching orders after he provided heated remonstrations with the umpire. Goalkeeper Adam Bridges did well to withstand a period of pummelling of opposition sticks and shots as Southend scrambled away as the half-time whistle loomed.
The second half began with the home side growing in confidence and showing more dominance in the attacking third. Centre backs Marcus Watson and Steve Wilkinson had to be on their toes to deal with a number of teasing crosses into the ‘D’. Southendians’ second-half pressure eventually paid off after the ball ricocheted around following a long corner and was put away low into the corner leaving Bridges with no chance. With reputations on the line and desperation creeping in, central midfielder Jack Harding became the second Southend player to see green as he swiped the ball away after the whistle had blown against his side. Claims that he had not heard the whistle were waved away by the umpire as he brandished the card and Southend were once again down to 10.
With nothing to lose, Southend pushed hard in the final quarter of the match. Nick Porter showing drive and determination to bring the ball forward at every opportunity. Mickey Walsh thought he had levelled with a measured finish under the advancing ‘keeper. However, the umpire chalked off the strike following claims of a foul in the build up. Not to be denied, Southend did find a way back and it came with less than 5 minutes left. A fantastic move started from the back by Wilkinson saw the ball move through Ty Barrett and Steve Roach before Jack Harding drilled in towards the right upright where Nick Porter was on hand to deflect the ball through the ‘keeper’s legs and in. Parity. Southendians let out a collective groan as they knew how close they had been, whereas Southend’s players were jubilant celebrating with the fans who had stayed until the end. Southend looked to grab an unlikely winner from the restart but were beaten by the clock. All in all, a deserved point for each team in what was an enthralling contest.
Man of the Match Nick Porter gave his thoughts after the game, “At 1-0 down I thought we reacted well and deserved something from the game. I’m glad that I could help the team by scoring and repay the faith shown in me by the manager.”
Manager Jeremy Puncher insisted his side had more than matched their close rivals, “I thought we gave a fantastic account of ourselves and the draw was the least we deserved against a strong Southendians team. I was disappointed by our discipline at times but it does show the players care and are fighting for the cause.”