Pools Earn Hard-Fought Point
A stunning goal from teenage star Brad Walker helped Pools to a terrific point against Southend United after a gusty and determined display at Roots Hall.
As beautiful as Walker’s second half equaliser was, it was the ugly side of the game which saw Colin Cooper’s men claim a share of the spoils in Essex.
Time after time, Pools players threw their bodies on the line for the cause seemingly taking turns to thwart and frustrate a Southend side who were looking to put nine points between themselves and their visitors.
The tone for a frenetic encounter was set in the opening seconds when Marlon Harewood released Luke James through the middle but as the striker scampered towards goal an expertly-timed intervention from home defender Mark Phillips came to Southend’s rescue.
Kevan Hurst saw a shot at the other end blocked by Simon Walton, while Barry Corr’s deflected effort was held by Flinders as the hosts looked to get on the front foot.
Walker tested Southend’s highly-rated keeper Daniel Bentley with a long-range shot which he held comfortably, before the dangerous Anthony Straker drilled a fierce effort just wide at the near post.
The best chance arrived from one of Southend’s many long throws; hurled in to the area by Ryan Leonard, Corr got up highest to nod an effort off the underside of the bar before Scott Flinders was able to pounce on the loose ball.
Darren Holden did well to escape his man down the left before showing great vision to feed a low ball across the box to Walker who rifled a low shot on goal only for Bentley to make a great reaction save with his feet.
Hurst volleyed an effort wide from the edge of the area and full-back Ben Coker tried his luck from long-range but couldn’t worry Flinders before the breakthrough arrived three minutes before the break.
Hurst dangerously drove to the byline on the left of the penalty area and slipped a low ball across goal to Corr who skilfully diverted it across in to the far corner of the net.
The second half began in just as furious a manner as Pools survived an almighty scramble in their box before escaping down the other end where Harewood’s deflected shot was collected by Bentley.
Phillips then came close to doubling Southend’s lead when he got up highest at the far post to head on goal and, although Flinders was beaten, Burgess got back on the line to clear brilliantly.
Just before the hour mark and Pools’ 17-year-old midfielder took centre-stage. Michael Timlin’s hurried clearance across goal landed on Walker’s chest twenty-five yards from goal and as the ball dropped he hit a stinging volley right in to the top left-hand corner of the net.
It rocked Southend and for a while they looked as though they were on the ropes; Christian Burgess almost getting on to Jordan Richards’ dangerous corner before it struck a defender and looped on to the roof of the net.
There were more defensive heroics from Pools at the other then though as this time Holden somehow got back on the line to claw away Hurst’s effort which was seemingly bound for the bottom corner.
Harewood and Luke Williams combined imaginatively on the right to move Pools towards the Southend penalty area where the ball was played in to James; the young striker’s first touch bought him space on the right of the box but his drilled shot was blocked away by Bentley.
There was some desperate defending to come in the closing minutes as Pools held on to what they had but the 105 travelling fans were happy to give their side an ovation when Referee Hill blew to end the contest and confirm a hard-earned point.
Full Time: Southend United 1 Pools 1
Booked: Monkhouse (78)
Attendance: 4361 (106 Pools)
Southend United: Bentley, White, Thompson, Phillips, Coker, Atkinson, Leonard, Timlin, Hurst, Corr, Straker (Eastwood 72).
Subs Not Used: Smith, Laird, Payne, Williams, Gomis Barnard.
Pools: Flinders, Richards, Collins, Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Williams, Monkhouse (Compton 86), Harewood, James.
Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Duckworth, Sweeney, Franks, Poole, Barmby.