Blues triumph to go top

30 Sep

TWO late goals put the mat finish on a hard-fought victory over Shrewsbury.
The first Friday night fixture of the season saw Blues edge a pretty even contest.
They deserved the lead given to them on 27 minutes from the spot – Liam Dickinson converting after Harris was shoved – and could have had more after an excellent first half hour which saw the visitors struggle to cope with Dickinson.
It could have been more had Ben Smith not pulled off an incredible double save just before the opener. He reacted sharply to parry out Ryan Leonard’s deflected drive, then amazingly denied Dickinson from point blank range.
Shrewsbury failed to register a single shot on target during the first half and it seemed a case of how many, not if.
However, they came out sharply after the break and immediately forced Morris into action courtesy of a long range drive from James Collins. Marvin Morgan was then denied after a defender got a nick to send his close range header over, but Southend had two great chances to kill the game off.
First, Harris broke free down the left but his cross was just too firm for Ryan Leonard to get a decent connection and his shot flew harmlessly wide.
Then a loose ball fell to Kane Ferdinand 15 yards out but he sent his shot wide with just Smith to beat.
Southend continued to frustrate their opponents, who played some crisp football but found the hosts tough to break down. JP Kalala in particular was superb in the midfield.
However, Shrews came inches away from levelling late on when a corner was only cleared to Marvin Morgan, who slammed a shot against the underside of the bar. With the ball still not away, Wright fizzed a cross shot all the way across the goal, amazingly nobody got a touch for what would have been a certain goal.
When Anthony Grant came on for Ferdinand he immediate calmed things down and started and finished a fine move to fire just wide, having been teed up brilliantly by Dickinson.
Then Ryan Hall’s introduction caused problems for a tiring Shrews back line. First his long free-kick was punched out by Smith, but the ball struck Phillips and rolled over the line.
Then in the last minute of stoppage time, Hall was felled crudely inside the box, leaving Neil Harris to score his first Roots Hall goal for Southend, blasting the ball high into the roof of the net to send more than 6,000 home fans into chants of “we are top of the league”.


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