Fleetwood Town switched off late and paid the price as they were pegged back by a stellar strike from newly-promoted Southend.
Graham Alexander’s men rode their luck in the opening exchanges, Southend carrying confidence and momentum from their Wembley promotion.
The visitors might have opened the scoring when Cian Bolger led a sweeping move down the centre, Kevan Hurst offside as he somehow fired wide.
Fleetwood looked vulnerable as the visitors moved the ball quickly around their box, opened up down the left, Anthony Wodsworth’s header flying narrowly wide.
But the Shrimpers confidence in attack was to be their downfall, men pouring forward leading them exposed for Town’s stunning opener.
A quick break, Jamille Matt and Declan McManus suddenly two-on-two.
It was an invitation too good to refuse for the Scottish under-21 international, taking a touch before unleashing a 25 yard piledriver into the top right-hand corner.
The goal changed the game, Fleetwood suddenly finding spaces, opportunities to test the visitors.
And they should have doubled their advantage moments after the re-start.
Matt’s header from a pinpoint Conor McLaughlin cross was well held but Southend made a hash of possession in their final third, Danny Andrew’s low ball smashed against the woodwork by the hungry McManus.
It remained finely poised, the balance changing minute to minute in an enthralling end-to-end clash.
Hurst forced a good save from Maxwell to preserve Town’s advantage.
The keeper was in imperious form - a rare mistake almost allowing Southend to sneak home in a crowded box, sub Jamie Proctor clearing off the line.
At the other end a well crafted move between Jimmy Ryan and Antoni Sarcevic almost crafted an opening for Fleetwood - the skipper’s cross blocked by a last ditch challenge,.
Sub Vamara Sanogo might have sealed it, beating the offside but firing wide.
And Town were made to pay an equaliser coming more by luck than invention - sub Davd Worrall swinging a cross from the Southend left which evaded everyone in the box and nestled into the far corner.