Phillips nets as Blues win ugly

14 Sep

Morris pulled off several impressive stops

PAUL Sturrock had demanded a performance from his team following the shocking display against Swindon, but within 20 minutes of this encounter it was clear that the only way Southend were going to win was by a mistake from a Gills player, or from a set-piece.
In the one memorable moment of the first half, Blair Sturrock produced a fine volley following strike partner Bilel Mohsni’s knock down, but his effort was tipped onto the crossbar by Ross Flitney.
At the other end, Southend’s defence looked decidedly jittery and only a few last-gasp tackles prevented Glenn Morris from being troubled more often.
Blues should have taken the lead straight after the break as Kane Ferdinand got on the end of a Ryan Hall corner but somehow diverted the ball over the bar when a goal looked certain.
By this stage, Bilel Mohsni had well and truly got the attention of referee David Phillips and was booked for a truly appalling dive soon afterwards.
And in true Mohsni fashion, his head was gone soon afterwards, lucky to escape a second booking for punching the ball away. His card was marked, and when he stepped across the path of a Garry Richards free-kick, Phillips decided he had had enough, and red carded the French-Tunisian.
Gills sensed blood and soon Morris was fending off long distance shots from all angles impressively. The visitors however failed to get in behind Blues, and Ryan Hall was causing problems for their defence at the other end, forcing them to defend deeper than they wanted to deal with his threat.
Unfortunately, Phillips had lost it by now and was booking Southend players with impunity whilst allowing Gillingham infringements to go unpunished. One particularly bad example was when Gills’ no. 23 walked straight in front of a free-kick to delay its taking. Having sent Mohsni off for EXACTLY THE SAME THING, Phillips didn’t even bat an eyelid. He then booked Hall for a genuine attempt to win the ball before it ran through to Flitney, shortly after allowing Charlie Lee to escape lasting punishment for a rash tackle from behind on the speedy Blues winger.
Gillingham continued their shoot on sight policy, with Danny Kedwell almost netting with a deflected shot that was superbly saved by Morris.
With 87 minutes on the clock, Hall did exceptionally well to win a corner when confronted with two defenders, and took it himself. It was met by Mark Phillips, who cannoned in a header off the underside of the bar with three minutes left for an unlikely winner.
It was far from the performance that Sturrock had asked for – but thanks in no small part to Morris, Southend are up to 9th in League Two with a home game against rock-bottom Plymouth coming up.


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