By JOHN CHUBB
Southend United ended an eventful first season in the National League by coming from behind to draw 1-1 at home to Torquay United, despite having been reduced to 10 men when Jason Demetriou was sent off just before the hour mark.
Both sides had chances in the first half, but it was the visitors who grabbed the lead deep in injury time when an error from Blues’ James Dunne allowed Chiori Johnson to steal possession and put Torquay 1-0 ahead.
Demetriou received a straight red card 12 minutes after the restart, following a late challenge on Ben Wynter.
But despite the setback, Southend made sure of ending the campaign with a point when Dunne atoned for his earlier error and levelled the scores in the 76th minute, with a well-taken goal.
There was a farewell appearance for long-serving John White, who is leaving Roots Hall after 9 seasons with Southend, and the popular defender received a tremendous reception from the home fans when he came on as a late substitute.
The Shrimpers finished the season in 13th place.
Southend United (Head Coach: Kevin Maher) – Steve Arnold, Leon Davies (John White 89), Shaun Hobson, Ollie Kensdale, Joe Gubbins, Jason Demetriou, James Dunne, Harrison Neal, Jack Bridge (Will Atkinson 85), Callum Powell (Jack Wood 90), Sam Dalby.
Torquay United (Manager: Gary Johnson) – Mark Halstead, Ben Wynter, Dan Martin (Opi Edwards 32), Joe Lewis, Chiori Johnson, Ali Omar, Joe Felix (Alex Moyse 87), Stephen Duke-McKenna, Keelan O’Connell (Olaf Koszela 78), Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, Danny Wright.
Attendance: 6,294 (including 141 Torquay fans)
Meanwhile at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, Dagenham & Redbridge went into the final day of their National League campaign still with an outside chance of making the play-off spots, and they scored an impressive 3-0 win over Wrexham thanks to goals from Junior Morias, Paul McCullum and Matt Robinson.
The Welsh side – roared on by 1500 travelling supporters at Victoria Road – went into the final day still in with a chance of finishing the season as champions and therefore gaining automatic promotion to EFL League Two.
But even if they had won, it would have been in vain as Stockport County made sure of the title with a 2-0 win at home to FC Halifax Town and so Wrexham had to settle for a play-off spot – something the Daggers missed out on, as Chesterfield grabbed the one point they needed to finish in seventh place with a goalless draw at home to Woking, so Dagenham & Redbridge finished 8th.