When a match is expected to have no shortage of snap, crackle and pop what often follows is flaccid fare.

This tepid encounter proved what can happen to great expectations with a far from classic game.

A professional City at least maintained their six-match unbeaten run and can claim the moral victory for an efficient performance.

And at least they tried to win, confirmation of just how far York City have come under Dolan.

A few weeks back and a now calm and composed Minstermen, increasingly difficult to beat, would have clung on gratefully for a point. Indeed, they would probably have lost.

Southend's former City chief Alan Little had claimed in his programme notes that his side, spattered with ex-Minstermen, were definitely "up for the game".

In truth, the Shrimpers played like a team with nothing to play for whose only concern was simply not to lose.

The first-half was especially poor with too few glimpses of quality and even fewer chances.

Controlled aggression was order of the day, especially in midfield where a potential powder keg of Mark Tinkler and Nigel Pepper lined up against City's ball winner Kevin Hulme but, to the players' credit, never came close to detonation

Southend lacked imagination in attack and looked disorganised at the back; City lacked the poise of their recent outings to take advantage but at least tried to play football and their work rate and commitment could not be faulted.

Southend had seven corners in the first-half compared to the Minstermen's none but failed to muster a sniff of danger around the City goal.

Unfussy defending from York and toothless tokens of attack from Southend - the corners mirrored sharply the pattern of the first 45 minutes.

The best chances to break the tedium fell to Barry Conlon, back on his old Roots Hall patch.

Played in by a ball forward by Darren Edmondson as early as the third minute, the United defence politely parted only for full-back Mark Beard to recover sharply and deny Conlon enough time to get off his shot.

Minutes later and Steve Agnew floated a delightful crossfield pass out wide to Edmondson, who advanced down the right before returning an equally delightful ball to the far post.

A waiting Conlon climbed high but former team mate Dave Morley jumped higher to stifle the danger.

The Shrimpers' biggest threat was Steve Jones, on loan from Bristol City, who hustled and bustled his way past the returning Chris Fairclough to latch on to Morley's 40-yard punt.

Mark Bower came across to usher the ex-West Ham striker wide only for Jones to turn and hit a rising drive that missed by inches the meeting of post and bar.

Half-chances continued to come and go for both sides.

Nathan Jones slammed a free-kick from just inside the City 'D' into the wall, Pepper headed wide from Gordon Connelly's corner while Edmondson just failed to get a head then boot to the ball as Mel Capleton flapped then dropped Conlon's near post flick on.

But it was pretty timid, tit-for-tat tattle.

The second-half offered little in the way of respite from the dour fare of its predecessor although City were far superior in terms of possession, far hungrier in terms of trying to win the game.

Fairclough was unlucky not to cap his 500th League appearance with his first goal for City when his far post goal-bound header from Agnew's corner hit a bemused Morley on the back.

Southend's best move of the second period followed moments later.

Nathan Jones advanced down the left and whipped in a low cross. Pepper stooped low to head the ball goalwards but Fettis, diving to his right, saved comfortably.

City's best move and best chance of the match followed not long after.

Second-half substitute Christian Fox snapped up Pepper's lose pass out of defence and rolled the ball into the path of an advancing Peter Hawkins.

The Wimbledon loan star raced into the penalty area, steadied himself and looked coolness personified as he rolled the ball past Capleton but also the wrong side of the post.

Chances gone begging made way for sliced clearances, hacked hoofs, stumbles, bobbles, blocked shots and mis-hit passes.

As the match progressed so the football regressed but City, to their credit, looked comfortable and assured and were doing their best to eke, if not exactly carve, out chances.

Good reasons to be cheerful then if not exactly ecstatic.

YORK CITY: Alan Fettis 7, Barry Jones 7, Peter Hawkins 7, Mark Bower 7, Chris Fairclough 7 (Matt Hocking 75mins), Kevin Hulme 7, Steve Agnew 7, Darren Edmondson 7, Barry Conlon 5 (Colin Alcide 69mins, 6), Mark Sertori 6, John Williams 5 (Christian Fox 46mins, 6).
Subs not used: Russ Howarth, Lee Bullock
Goal: None.
Booking: Sertori, 59mins, ungentlemanly conduct.
Sent off: None
Statistics: Half Time: 0 Corners: 10 Shots on Target: 3 Fouls Committed 6
Evening Press Unique Pub Man of the match: Darren Edmondson: No nonsense display. Swift to challenge, quick to advance and good distribution to feet. A player always with his head up and picking passes.

Southend: Mel Capleton, Mark Beard, Nathan Jones, Dave Morley, Leo Roget, Scott Houghton (Kevin Maher, 79mins) Gordon Connelly, Nigel Pepper, Mark Tinkler, Martin Carruthers, Steve Jones.
Subs not used: Simon Coleman, Rob Newman, Garry Cross, Trevor Fitzpatrick.
Goals: None
Bookings: Roget, 59mins, ungentlemanly conduct; Connelly, 89mins, foul
Sent off: None
Statistics: Half Time: 0 Corners: 5 Shots on Target: 2 Fouls Committed 15

Attendance: 3364
Referee: Ken Leach (Codsall)