First half dominance is enough to see off Torquay

5 Sep

Josh Simpson

Josh Simpson

High-flying Torquay were stopped dead in their tracks by two wonder-strikes from Anthony Grant and Josh Simpson as Blues picked up their first Roots Hall league win of the campaign.

A thoroughly enjoyable first half saw free-flowing football from the home side, who lined up with Blair Sturrock on his own upfront with wing support from Louie Soares and Ryan Hall.

It enabled Easton, Grant and Simpson to totally boss the midfield, with Paul Buckle’s league-leaders – owners of the only 100 per cent record in all four divisions – unable to get a grip on the game.

Southend deservedly took the lead after 15 minutes, Grant guiding a sweet strike into the top corner after a right-wing flag kick was deflected into his path. His second goal in two games, and he is really enjoying his football in a more attacking role.

Grant then almost caught out Scott Bevan at his near post with a low shot which struck the upright, and Ryan Hall produced a masterful turn and through ball for Louie Soares who beat Bevan to the ball but couldn’t keep it in play with players lining up to take a shot at an open net.

Mark Ellis hit the woodwork at the other end but in truth Torquay’s dangerous front two of Chris Zebroski and Elliot Benyon were easily marshalled by Bilel Mohsni and Chris Barker.

With two minutes remaining until half time, Josh Simpson capitalised on a loose ball in midfield before advancing and hitting a perfectly-placed daisy cutter into the bottom corner of the net from 25 yards.

The Roots Hall crowd of 5,505, starved of such an enjoyable display from the home side for so long, raucously applauded the half-time whistle. However, it was the visitors who came out stronger and could so easily have nicked a point.

It was all quiet until the last 20 minutes, but the arrival of Martin Gritton in attack caused immediate problems. Torquay opted to pump endless long balls into the danger area, and Grittons aerial prowess gave Barker and Mohsni a tough time. Suddenly, the midfield three were no longer picking up the loose balls and the defenders were dropping ever deeper.

With 12 minutes left, Gritton’s shot struck a post and Zebroski was there to finish off the rebound to make it 2-1. Nicky Wroe then scuffed a shot wide following a low cross, and it looked only a matter of time until the visitors made their pressure count.

Fortunately, Graham Coughlan was introduced to form a five-man back line, which saw Southend over the line. There were a few more scares though, not least when Zebroski met a left wing corner only for Glenn Morris to somehow claw the ball away low down to his left. A real top class save.

It would have been extremely harsh on Southend to not have come away with all three points, but there was huge relief when four minutes of stoppage time were eventually brought to a close by the referee’s whistle. A second successive league win for Southend who climb into the top half of the League Two standings.


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