Pure Theatre at the EBB Stadium, as this on, off, on, off game was eventually abandoned at half time!!
Shots manager Dean Holdsworth gave a full debut to defender Chris Doig and brought back Ross Worner in goal. Danny Hylton returned from suspension. Scott Davies, who impressed in his last start for Shots was only given a place on the bench, as was Alex Rodman.
After a controversy fuelled first half.....Shots eventually trailled 1-0 at the break....and were down to ten men after the sending off of Darren Jones, for putting his hands in the face of an opponent in retaliation.
The Shrimpers had taken the lead in the 7th minute, through a penalty given against Ben Herd, who was adjudged to have handled the ball. Liam Dickinson duly despatched the spot-kick.
As Shots attempted to find their way back into the match, Michael Rankine broke through one on one. As the keeper advanced, Rankine slipped the ball to his left in an attempt to round the keeper. The keeper then clearly (according to photographic evidence) caught Rankine, who fell to ground, inside the area. Referee Ward then proceeded to give a free kick to Southend and caution Rankine!!
They say that lightning rarely strikes twice, but incredibly, it did, less than 10 minutes later. This time McGlashan, cut inside one player and was then tripped by a second - inside the area again. Astonishingly, Ward again gave a free kick to Southend and showed yellow to McGlashan. The home faithful were incensed!
Five minutes from the end of one of the most controversial first half of football I have ever witnessed, Shots found themselves down to ten men. Herd was fouled - nothing given.....then Jones, moments later - again nothing given. Taking the law into his own hands - one can only guess through sheer frustration - Jones, unprofessionally, raised his hands toward the face of Dickinson, leaving Ward no alternative than to send Jones off.
Unsurprisingly, Ward was booed and heckled all the way to the touchline at half time, but another factor was to come into play.....
Apparently - ATFC had known since prior to kick off, about a problem with the floodlights at the Eastbank end. They came on...and off, throughout the opening half and eventually, despite the best efforts of the club electrician the match was abandoned.....or was it? Five announcements followed.....on behalf of the health and safety stewards - ultimately responsible for such decisions - one chap announced that the game had been abandoned. Then the club's PA announcer declared that there had been "no official decision made as yet". Then the same two announcements again - in the same order. And finally - a fifth announcement - that the game was "officially cancelled".
Sheer pantomime......but ultimately.....Shots will get a second opportunity to win a match that they would otherwise have struggled to get anything from. As for whether Ward will get another chance to officiate the game when it is re-played, we can only hope otherwise.