Southend 2-0 Macclesfield

10 May

Neil Harris

Neil Harris netted the second for Southend.

ANTICIPATION built hours before what every Southend fan hoped would be the last game of the season. The mood was confident but deep down we knew it would take a long shot for us to celebrate what would be a remarkable promotion, given where we were just three or four weeks before.
A crowd of just over 9,000 turned up and, with just over 100 Macclesfield fans making the pilgrimage for what is likely to be their last Football League game for a while, Blues supporters were given the majority of the North Bank to try and lift their side to victory.
It was a slow start for the home side and Bilel Mohsni, named League Two player of the month before the game and so vital in our recent charge, almost turned from hero to villain within five minutes when his naive back header sent Ben Tomlinson racing clear, but Cameron Belford was alert enough to get a block in at the cost of a dead leg which troubled him for the whole game.
A lovely move down the right led to Michael Timlin dodging the challenge of a defender and rifling a left foot shot which was saved by Jose Veiga. Neil Harris latched onto the rebound, but his shot was deflected onto the roof of the net.
However, from the resulting corner, Ryan Hall’s ball sailed over the heads of those drawn to the near post, leaving Peter Gilbert to cushion a left-footed volley into the bottom corner, with Freddy Eastwood impressively resisting the temptation to help it on its way.
By now news had filtered through that Hereford, 3-0 victors at Crawley the previous week, were doing us another massive favour, leading Torquay 3-0. The atmosphere was cranked up, as with Crawley still goalless at Accrington, live league tables everywhere currently had Southend in that coveted third spot.
The performance on the pitch was not vintage but Jose Veiga was still having to be at his very best. Bilel Mohsni flicked the ball over Arnaud Mendy’s head before hitting a left-foot volley that resulted in the pick of Veiga’s work during the half.
The buzz around Roots Hall continued during the half time break and into the second half. Ryan Hall’s swerving volley was again saved by Veiga, and Freddy Eastwood fed Anthony Grant who shot inches wide when well-placed.
Eastwood himself then cut inside in trademark Freddy fashion, bamboozling Mendy but uncharacteristically shooting just over when in reality he should have hit the net from 15 yards.
Sadly, with around 20 minutes left, those keeping tabs on the Crawley game had some bad news – Scott Neilson had shot the Reds into the lead at Accrington. Torquay were also clawing things back at Hereford but still had a mountain to climb with the score at 3-2.
The atmosphere inside the ground died out, and there was only fairly muted celebration when sub Elliot Benyon produced another wonder-save from Veiga only for the ball to fall to Neil Harris, who finally scored his goal in front of the North Bank faithful from a couple of yards out.
The final whistle brought a mixture of disappointment but clear recognition for a Southend side who will go into the playoffs as the form team, with no goals conceded in five matches and having won their previous four home fixtures. The good football that has been played by Paul Sturrock’s men in recent weeks has also shaken off the “hoofball” tag that was attached to the side earlier on in the season.
So to a date with Crewe Alexandra, unbeaten in 16 since their most recent trip to Roots Hall saw them go down 1-0 to a Mohsni tap-in. However, Southend have every right to believe they can win through to the club’s first ever showpiece trip to Wembley.


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