Blood and thunder as Stevenage and Southend draw in play-offs

Dean Parrett

Dean Parrett - Credit: Archant

Match report: Stevenage 1 Southend Utd 1

All eyes will now be fixed on Roots Hall this coming Thursday as Stevenage drew with Southend United in the first leg of their League Two play-off semi-final.

Boro took the lead early in the second half thanks to Dean Parrett’s wonderful long-range effort, but United earned the draw when Barry Corr popped up at the back post to nod in for 1-1 on the hour mark.

It was a riveting game full of blood, literally, and thunder, but there was ultimately no winner on the night with the two sides set to go head-to-head again later this week.

Stevenage tested Dan Bentley in the opening minutes when, following some early pressure, Charlie Lee fired goalwards only to find the keeper in a good position.

Southend then went close themselves when Stephen McLaughlin teed up Corr in the box, and the striker turned his defender to set up Michael Timlin whose low drive was just wide of the post.

Bentley was forced into a save after Parrett’s cross from the right threatened to creep inside the far post, but then there was a long stoppage in play following a clash of heads between Timlin and Boro skipper Bira Dembele.

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The Southend man had to be taken off with deep cut above his eye, while Dembele, following lengthy treatment, was bandaged up and re-took to the field.

The chances kept on coming with Dean Wells volleying off target from 14 yards for the hosts while United defender Adam Barrett out-jumped Parrett to head over Chris Day’s bar.

Will Atkinson’s shot soon followed over the goal as Southend pushed for the opener.

And they almost got it, too, when neither Atkinson nor Dembele was able to make anything of a cross into the box, and Worrall’s close range effort was stopped on the line by Day.

Boro made a double substitution at half-time with Dembele and Roarie Deacon making way for Jon Ashton and Ben Kennedy, but it was Parrett who had the home fans in raptures with 51 minutes on the clock.

Chris Beardsley took possession inside the Southend half, and instead of finding Kennedy on the right he played the ball into Lee ahead of him.

With Parrett running into space, Lee found him and the midfielder struck a sweet effort over Bentley and into the top corner to give Boro the lead.

And yet it wasn’t to last long, as within nine minutes Southend were back on level terms when Corr rose at the far post to head Stephen McLaughlin’s deep corner past Day and into the Boro net.

There was a return to the Southend bench for Timlin, who was now sporting 15 stitches, and he saw his team-mates go close again when John White’s long-range effort deflected off Wells, and was kept out by Day’s terrific save.

With 10 minutes to go, Kennedy stung the fists of Bentley. Whelpdale got away from his man just inside the Southend half and passed to the teenager 35 yards from goal. Kennedy sprinted past his marker, and then fired a stinging 30-yard shot at goal which Bentley was forced to punch to distance.

Substitute Myles Weston then turned on the skill with a couple of stepovers, before picking out Worrall at the far side of the Boro box. With the ball dropping to him, the winger turned his body and pulled off a volley which flew just wide of Day’s goal.

The goalkeeper was then forced into a last-gasp stop from Weston before Boro’s Tom Conlon fired just wide at the other end as the game finished as a stalemate with the rivalry set to resume in four days at Roots Hall.

Stevenage: Day, Whelpdale, Wells, Dembele (c) (Ashton 46), Okimo, Pett (Conlon 78), Bond, Parrett, Deacon (Kennedy 46), Lee, Beardsley. Subs: D Beasant, Walton, Zola, Martin

Southend Utd: Bentley, White, Bolger, Barrett, Coker, Worrall, Leonard, Timlin (Deegan 36), Atkinson, McLaughlin (Weston 77), Corr (Pigott 82). Subs: T Smith, Prosser, Payne, Cassidy.

Ref: K Stroud

Att: 5,183 (1607 away)

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