Another no-score draw for Stevenage on trip to Essex coast
- Credit: DAVID LOVEDAY/TGS PHOTO
They say it is a sign of being top side when you can get a result from a disappointing show.
The 0-0 draw at Southend United may not put Stevenage into that category quite yet but it is another point and another game unbeaten.
This was not the best performance of Boro's fine current run, a sequence which is now eight games long, but it is a game that just a few months ago would have ended in defeat.
But they cannot always rely on their defence to drag them to a positive result.
This was their 16th clean-sheet in total this season and sixth in a row but at some point the forwards, and on this occasion the midfield are going to have to stamp their authority on a game.
Manager Alex Revell did try and do that before kick-off, making two changes to the starting line-up from Tuesday's 0-0 at Leyton Orient.
In came Chris Lines and Jack Aitchison for Arthur Read and Luke Norris, the latter being the more significant as it meant Elliott List returned to the front two alongside Danny Newton.
List had looked lost at times on the left side of midfield at Brisbane Road and the thinking was clear, if he's in a good run of form then get him at the pointy end of things.
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But if that was the case, the memo had not been picked up by the rest of the team.
Boro were disjointed for the whole of the opening 45 minutes as the roles of form team and relegation battlers were blurred.
Southend won the ball after just five seconds and it set the tone as they piled forward.
Their troubles though are clearly an effect of poor finishing and lack of confidence.
They should have been ahead on six minutes but Simeon Akinola fired over the top first-time when found six yards out by a delicious cross by Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.
It would have been 1-0 four minutes later had it not been for a sensational save by Jamie Cumming. He raced across to his right to tip an equally-excellent free-kick from Nathan Ferguson over the bar.
The corner then picked out Ferguson unmarked 12 yards out but again a firs-time effort sailed high over the top.
Luther James-Wildin was in the right place at the right time to clear a bobbling ball that was bouncing towards goal and a poor first touch from Hackett-Fairchild did enough to prevent him scoring from a lovely ball over the top by Alan McCormack,
List did have Boro's best chance after a great bit of control to bring down a Lines pass. Unfortunately after shifting it to his right foot he fired wide.
Elliot Osborne too shot wide in an all-too infrequent spell of pressure while Newton was denied by a good bit of defending from skipper John White.
Boro seemed to be having problems with their footing all half with numerous players slipping and hitting the floor. Heavy but brief showers had left the surface slick but it was an issue that didn't seem to affect the hosts anywhere near as much.
They weren't helped by the loss of Scott Cuthbert, the away captain gingerly going off just before half-time, former Southend man Luke Prosser his replacement, but thankfully they reached half-time still level.
There had been frustrations and plenty of instructions from the Boro bench in the first-half and the break was expected to restore some semblance of calm to the visitors.
Mind you it took nearly 15 minutes for either side to allow some form of football to be played.
More injuries and more niggling fouls prevented any action and saw Stevenage require a further substitution, Norris on for Newton who picked up a knock in a coming together with Sam Hart.
It did finally settle down with Boro enjoying more of the play but they still struggled to test James Montgomery in the Southend goal.
List dragged one effort wide and Aitchison was denied just as he was about to shoot by Jason Demetriou.
Norris did test the keeper with a shot from a narrow angle but he was able to kick it away with relative ease and there was late pressure with a couple of corners being won and dangerous crosses being sent in.
In the end though the last action was reserved for the home side who almost snatched the win with the very last touch of the game, Ricky Holmes poking it over at full stretch at the back post.
In the end it is a point that may yet prove vital for Southend but it is another match which shows that Stevenage still have more improvements to be made.
Stevenage: Cumming, James-Wildin, Coker, Cuthbert (Prosser 41), Osborne, Newton (Norris 59), Vancooten, List, Pett, Aitchison (Vincelot 90+1), Lines.
Subs (not used): Johnson, Hutton, Read, Stevens.
Booked: Prosser 45+2
Southend United: Montgomery, Bwomono, McCormack (Holmes 70), Hobson, Dieng, Akinola, Hackett-Fairchild (Goodship 84), Demetriou (Mellis 84), Hart Ferguson, White.
Subs (not used): Seaden, Cordner, Acquah, Nathaniel-George.
Booked: McCormack 66, Demetriou 77, Hackett-Fairchild 81
HT: Southend United 0 Stevenage 0
Referee: Peter Wright (Southport)