Rotherham United left it late once again to salvage a point thanks to captain Johnny Mullins’ second goal of the season in a Millers shirt. The defender eventually connected with Noble’s cross to save the game after a Kevan Hurst wonder strike had put the hosts ahead.
Manager Steve Evans made made two changes to the side that drew with York City in the week, as Michael O’Connor and Ben Pringle returned to the side in place of Mark Bradley and Kieran Agard.
Meanwhile, Daniel Nardiello, declared doubtful by the Millers boss in the week made the starting 11. And it was the former Welsh international who had the first real opportunity of the game, connecting with Pringle’s cross only to see his goalbound header palmed over the bar by Paul Smith.
David Noble, playing as part of a two-man sitting midfield with the returning O’Connor then tried his luck 11 minutes in, but despite the swerve on the ball saw his effort held by Smith.
The visitors were on top, but Southend’s first real attack, twice saw them go close. Instigated by a drag-back by Bilel Mohsni, the home side broke down the left and when Sheffield Wednesday loanee Danny Mayor got his shot away from the edge of the box it was deflected narrowly wide. From Kevan Hurts’s resulting corner, Matthew Lund found himself in acres of space at the front post but couldn’t get his effort on target.
After the lively start, which also saw two players booked, Claude Davis for handball and Matthew Lund for bringing down O’Connor, both sides relaxed and the game suffered a lull. Until it was, that Nardiello was handed acres of space on the left, but after bringing the ball onto his stronger side he couldn’t find the target from 18 yards.
With the first-half being played out with a lack of action, it was no surprise that the last real chance of the half came from a mistake. O’Connor was dispossessed by Mohsni on halfway whose through ball to Britt Assombalonga put the striker one-on-one with Davis. When he eventually got a shot away, he was denied by Andy Warrington who made a stunning save low to his left.
Southend United 0-0 Millers
Both sides began with the second-half with the same personnel but it was the hosts who started better. Mohsni capitalised on Davis’ missed backheel but could only fire over, and then Assombalonga continued to be frustrated by Warrington as his header from close range was parried by the Millers stopper.
The home side’s pressure continued and another Ryan Leonard long throw wasn’t cleared, leading to Mayor again trying his luck, but the midfielder was again off target.
The action dipped once again as the Millers put up a firm resistance and it wasn’t until after the hour mark that either side looked like breaking the deadlock. Pringle fed Nardiello with a lovely through ball but the striker was denied by Sean Clohessy just as he was about to pull the trigger. Moments later O’Connor hit a free-kick which was saved well by Smith.
The scoresheet was finally marked on 73 minutes and in stunning style through Hurst. Mayor got on the ball wide on the left and poked the ball inside for the winger-turned-midfielder who dug out a shot from 25 yards into the top corner which left Warrington with no chance.
Moments later Leonard tired a spectacular overhead kick after the Millers failed to clear Hurst’s cross but he was off target from the angle.
The Millers introduced Jordan Slew with their final change, switching to three at the back and it was one of those three who salvaged the point. Noble’s teasing cross was missed by everyone and the Millers skipper eventually bundled the ball over the line at the far post at the third time of asking.
Southend - Millers
Southend: Smith, Clohessy, Straker, Cresswell, Mayor (Corr 88), Lund, Hurst, Prosser, Leonard, Assombalonga (Eastwood 90), Mohsni.
Unused: Spillane, Harris, Bentley, Spicer, Woodyard.
Millers: Warrington, Mullins, Davis, Arnason, Ridehalgh (Slew 86), O’Connor, Noble, Pringle (Cameron 78), Frecklington, Nardiello, Revell (Odejayi 78).
Unused: Thompson, Bradley, Morgan, Agard,.
Att: 4,983 (302)