Chief sports reporter
JOHN White’s late own goal saw Southend United have to settle for a 1-1 draw with Crawley Town in the first round of the FA Cup at Roots Hall this afternoon.
The Shrimpers dominated the opening exchanges and opened the scoring when Michael Kightly fired home after just nine minutes.
But Blues seemed to sit back on their lead in the second half and paid the price in the 85th minute when White diverted Filipe Morais’ cross into his own goal.
The Shrimpers – who have not won in the FA Cup since 2014 – wasted a great early chance to score when Jason Demetriou teed up Simon Cox with a right wing cross but the striker could only send his six yard shot straight at Crawley goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
Moments later, Cox failed to capitalise on another excellent opportunity when he headed Kightly’s left wing cross over the crossbar from eight yards.
With the Shrimpers remaining on top, the recalled Theo Robinson sent a 25 yard shot at Morris before Cox sent another effort at the former Blues keeper from the edge of the penalty area.
But, with nine minutes on the clock, Blues made the breakthrough with Cox playing in Kightly who darted into the right hand side of the penalty area and netted with a confident right footed shot into the left hand side of the South Stand net.
In reply, Josh Payne sent a well struck half volley straight at Shrimpers goalkeeper Mark Oxley from long range before the hosts hit back with Sam Mantom firing wide of the right post from long range.
With Blues looking for a second goal, Michael Turner headed Mantom’s corner into the gloves of Morris before Crawley thought they had got back into the game in the 35th minute when Ollie Palmer headed home, only for the effort to be ruled out for offside.
Town boss Gabrielle Cloffi was booked for his subsequent protests before the Shrimpers came close at the start of the second half with Cox curling a 20 yard shot inches wide of the right post.
Moments later, Theo Robinson wasted a clearer chance to score when he sent his shot onto the North Bank roof with Morris stranded off his line.
Crawley soon nearly made the most of the let off with Panutche Carnara having a close range effort blocked by the legs of Oxley.
In a bid to help his side get back on top, Blues boss Chris Powell made a double change in the 72nd minute with Dru Yearwood and Harry Bunn entering the action.
But Crawley still threatened and came close to equalising in the 84th minute when Joe McNerney sent a close range header against the top of the crossbar.
However, the visitors were not to denied and, just seconds later, the visitors made it 1-1 when Morais’ left wing cross was fired into his own goal by White to take the tie to a replay.