SOUTHEND 0 LATICS 0Leon Barnett came closest for Latics with three efforts on goal as Gary Caldwell’s men battled out a tense 0-0 draw at Roots Hall in Sky Bet League One.
The big defender, back in the side after an absence of four games, saw one effort scraped off the line, another well saved and he hit the bar with virtually the last kick of the game – all three coming direct from Max Power corners.
Caldwell made five changes for the game, two of them enforced with Yanic Wildschut and Craig Morgan not risked after picking up injuries. Onto the bench went David Perkins, Michael Jacobs and Tim Chow as Will Grigg, Francisco Junior, Barnett, Don Cowie and Jason Pearce came back in to the starting line-up, the latter wearing the captain’s armband in place of Morgan.
The teams went in level at the break after a first half which yielded a great chance for each side, but little else by way of real goalmouth action.
Southend could have opened the scoring in spectacular style in just the sixth minute. Ben Coker rolled a right sided corner along the ground all the way to the unmarked Ryan Leonard, who side-footed the ball first time from 20 yards onto Jussi Jaaskelainen’s cross bar, with the keeper stranded. A real let off for Latics, who responded with efforts from Chris McCann and Alex Revell, but neither caused any problems.
David Mooney was shown a yellow card for simulation after going down in the box as he brushed past Pearce and Jack Payne forced a save from Jaaskelainen in the home side’s most dangerous spell.
Then Latics could have taken the lead in the 37th minute, when Barnett’s side-footed shot direct from a Max Power corner was scraped off the line by Will Atkinson’s lunge.
Latics were forced into a change before the break, McCann hobbling off on 40 minutes holding his groin, replaced by Perkins.
Latics could have scored from the same combination that yielded their best chance of the first half, again from a corner, after 50 minutes. Power delivered and Barnett, this time at the near post, forced a good save from Dan Bentley with a side-footed volley. Reece James then saw a powerful drive from 20 yards beaten away by Bentley.
Southend responded with a good spell of their own, first a Mooney header caused problems for Jaaskelainen, before a cross on the break from Kevan Hurst was cleared by Cowie just before reaching Mooney and Daniels had to be on hand to cut out Payne’s cross. John Whiter’s shot on the turn then flew a yard wide.
Jacobs replaced Grigg after 65 minutes as Latics looked to seize back the initiative. They pressed for the breakthrough but were almost hit on the break, as a quick breakaway from a Latics corner ended with Payne firing across the face of goal.
Davies replaced Junior in the 75th minute as Caldwell showed his attacking intent in the closing stages.
There were immediate calls for a penalty when Pearce appeared to be pulled down in the area by Atkinson as a Power penalty whistled through a crowded area. Adam Barratt put in a superb tackle to deny Power’s fierce drive as Latics turned up the heat. Davies then almost latched on to a long clearance from Jaaskelainen but just failed to force the opening. He also tried his luck from distance with two minutes left on the clock.
Latics could have stolen it right at the death, Barnett once again meeting a Power corner, but this time his effort from point blank range came back off the crossbar.