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Football: HEFF OFF! ROVER SEES RED; League One play-offs Semi-final, first leg Southend 0 Doncaster 0.

PAUL HEFFERNAN was left "devastated" by the red card which soured Doncaster's goalless draw with Southend.

Heffernan was sent off after aiming a headbutt at Shrimpers defender Charlie Mulgrew with three minutes of the Roots Hall clash remaining.

The striker will now miss next Friday's second leg at the Keepmoat Stadium and a potential trip to Wembley for his moment of madness. "I didn't see it but I spoke to the referee and he said it was a headbutt and we have to accept that," said manager Sean O'Driscoll.

"It's disappointing for him, he's going to miss three games and he's devastated in the dressing room now. But he's got to take it on the chin and move on."

Rovers will now be favourites to progress, although they could have taken a priceless lead back to south Yorkshire had Jason Price not fluffed his lines in front of goal in the second half.

Price was put clean through, one-on-one with Darryl Flahavan, but the Southend goalkeeper stood up well and kept out his low shot.

Southend had their chances too, not least a point-blank Simon Francis effort kept out by veteran Rovers goalkeeper Neil Sullivan just before the interval.

The Shrimpers laid siege to the Doncaster goal following Heffernan's dismissal but Nicky Bailey, James Walker and Lee Barnard could not make the breakthrough during four minutes of stoppage time.

"Southend showed they are a good side and I'm sure the game next week will be just as tight," added O'Driscoll.

"We had a spell in the second half where if we had got a goal we would probably have got on top but you have to give them some credit."

Shrimpers boss Steve Tilson said: "It was a fair result on the night. We probably shaded the first half and they shaded the second. The main thing is we are still in the tie.

"We would have liked to have had an advantage but it's all to play for in a one-off game now."

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YOU'RE OFF Paul Heffernan is dismissed
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 10, 2008
Words:342
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