Blues break back to defeat Dale

26 Nov

AFTER two mightily impressive away results, it was time for Southend to walk the walk at Roots Hall, where the side had not won a league match in more than two months.
Blues enjoyed a bright start despite sodden conditions and a neat disguised cross from Michael Timlin was nodded back across goal by Britt Assombalonga, but to the frustration of the 5,000 crowd the ball rebounded back off the post with Josh Lillis a mere spectator.
Timlin, enjoying the continuing freedom in the centre of the park with Laird and Mkandawire backing him up, was then tripped in the box while coming away from goal – the referee said no and Blues were themselves fortunate when Terry Gornell claimed he was fouled by Ryan Cresswell – nothing was given and Dale manager John Coleman said after the match he felt Cresswell should have been dismissed (funny, he failed to mention the stonewall penalty not given to Southend).
The visitors’ best effort was a fierce free kick from Bobby Grant which Paul Smith did well to save in tricky conditions.
After the break though, the visitors took the lead when a deep cross from Phil Edwards found Gornell unmarked at the back post, and his downward header trickled past the committed Smith and into the bottom corner of the net.
Blues fans were just beginning to envisage another disappointing home result when, on 56 minutes, an excellent tackle from Cresswell saw the ball break for Laird who picked out Assombalonga on the halfway line. He advanced to the edge of the box before firing a low right footed shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net. It was a goal reminiscent of Freddy Eastwood in his pomp, but the Blues hero can only sit and watch at the moment as Assombalonga and Tomlin continue to strike fear into League Two defences.
Two minutes later, Blues were in front. This time Lillis was caught out by a misdirected cross from Timlin, and could only palm the ball out to the feet of Gavin Tomlin who tapped home with ease from inside the six yard box.
Rochdale tried to get back into the game but could find no way past the Blues rearguard. On 77 minutes, Assombalonga once again broke away and this time put Laird through, and the on-loan midfielder dinked the ball over the advancing Lillis to wrap the game up.
The scoreline could have been made even more convincing late on when Assombalonga sprung the defence again, but his left footed shot caught Lillis’s studs and slid inches wide.
A satisfying home victory against a strong side meant Blues jumped up to fourth in the standings ahead of a week’s break from league fixtures.


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