Southend boss Paul Sturrock was left frustrated after his side failed to find a way past Port Vale's impressive goalkeeper Chris Neal at Roots Hall.

Neal earned his side a point in the 0-0 draw with a string of fine saves to deny a Southend attack that had scored goals for fun in recent weeks

"Their goalkeeper had one of those days and must have made four or five good saves," said Sturrock.

"Everything he did came off and we just couldn't find a way past him which was disappointing because I was pleased with our overall display.

"Our final shot or ball in to the box could maybe have been a bit better and brought us greater reward but Port Vale are a good side and we more than matched them. That's the most positive thing to take out of the game and I think we're starting to look a far stronger side now."

Neal's first fine save came midway the first half when he did well to push a well-struck volley from Gavin Tomlin around the left post. Tomlin soon caused further problems when he fired a close-range shot against the outside of the right post before another effort bounced back off the opposite upright.

Vale's best chance in the first half came when Tom Pope played in Ben Williamson but his shot was pushed wide for a corner by Southend keeper Paul Smith. The home side got back on top with Britt Assombalonga having a powerful effort impressively clawed out by Neal before the keeper pushed away a curling 20-yard shot from Tomlin.

The second half was far less eventful with Assombalonga being denied by Neal from 12 yards before Vale almost snatched it at the death with Ashley Vincent charging through and having a powerful effort parried out by Smith.

And Vale boss Micky Adams could not work out how the game ended goalless.

"I don't know how we have got a clean sheet and Paul Sturrock will say the same for Southend. Both keepers were outstanding and made some great saves. A clean sheet is very rare for us and I think on another day we wouldn't have got away with it but we have and we will take positives from this point."