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Myles Weston nets brace in Southend United win over Billericay Town

16 Jul

Players cool off at the end of the first half at Billericay.

Players cool off at the end of the first half at Billericay.

TWO poacher’s goals from Myles Weston and an exquisite lob from Kevan Hurst eased Southend to a comfortable pre-season victory over Ryman Premier League outfit Billericay Town at New Lodge.

Barry Corr had already seen a thumping header from Hurst’s right-wing free kick, before Hurst himself opened the scoring with an effort worthy of a far bigger stage. Ghosting in between the hapless Town centre backs, Hurst instantly killed a drilled crossfield ball with his first touch, and lifted the ball delicately over the onrushing goalkeeper with his second.

Weston (mysteriously known as Myles Wilton on the error-ridden official teamsheet), doubled the lead when he met a left-wing corner with a glancing header at the near post.

A third followed when a sharp turn from former Spurs winger Romain Michael-Percil in the box deceived two defenders, and his driven cross was diverted over the line by former Gillingham winger Weston, who head earlier missed a gilt-edged chance when through on goal.

Billericay pulled one back when Chris Webber’s excellent 25-yard shot flew low to Paul Smith’s right, but Conor Clifford’s thundering half-volley was within a couple of inches of restoring Southend’s three-goal lead, but instead it cannoned off the angle of post and bar.

The second half was a far less lively affair with the hosts enjoying much more possession without ever threatening to score. The usual raft of changes disrupted the rhythm of the game and goalmouth action was at a premium. Will Atkinson’s well-struck shot did rebound out off the post late on, but the final whistle saw Phil Brown pleased with another decent performance from his side.

TRIALIST WATCH: Romain Michael-Percil, caught the eye down the right flank in the first half but sometimes looked to try to do too much. Nabil Aslam played at centre back for 60 minutes and looked comfortable on the ball but was rarely tested. Craig Fagan came on for the last half hour and showed good experience and one decent run that was halted abruptly by an industrial challenge on the edge of the box. Gavin Hoyte came on at half time for Ben Coker and played on the right, with Ryan Auger switching to the left. Hoyte looked assured and very little came down his flank. Josh Wilson played in midfield for the last half an hour but repeatedly gave the ball away.


Friday fever as Fleetwood are toppled

19 Oct

Ryan Cresswell finished on the losing side during his return to Roots Hall.

Ryan Cresswell finished on the losing side during his return to Roots Hall.

FOR the first time in ten months, Southend finally enjoyed a good Friday feeling as Barry Corr’s double saw off big-spenders Fleetwood Town.
Corr bundled home his first goal since early August from Kevan Hurst’s deep cross on 21 minutes and then added a second from the spot to calm Shrimpers’ fans nerves with nine minutes left.
Much of the pre-match talk had surrounded ex-Shrimper Ryan Cresswell as he revealed off-pitch problems had let to him seeking a move away from Roots Hall.
But any negative vibes at Roots Hall were quickly erased by a superb team performance to overcome a strong Fleetwood side, who could afford the luxury of leaving £450,000 signing Jamille Matt on the bench.
Lone striker David Ball was the main threat to Southend as the visitors sought an early goal. Twice, the ex-Peterborough striker warmed the hands of Daniel Bentley in the opening 20 minutes.
However, with Kevan Hurst in the team, Barry Corr’s goal drought was always likely to end soon. After a right wing corner was cleared unconvincingly by Junior Brown, Hurst sent the ball back in with interest, and Corr was at the far post to outmuscle his marker and bundle the ball in with his midriff.
It was the early goal Southend needed to settle the nerves after four Roots Hall matches without a victory. The midfield trio of Leonard, Atkinson and Clifford worked tirelessly to press their opponents into conceding possession and after a mad first twently minutes when Mark Phillips seemed to find a red shirt with every pass, he and Robbie Kiernan defended manfully.
However, Bentley had the frame of the goal to thank to keep his sheet clean. Sarcevic’s free kick had the youngster well-beaten, but his curling effort bounced back off the upright. Conor Clifford had put the slightest of deflections onto the shot which probably saved his side.
Clifford himself had a dipping free kick bother Scott Davies, but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
The best chance Fleetwood had fell when Blues were caught by a swift counter attack, and Antoni Sarcevic smashed an angled drive at Bentley and then saw a follow-up blocked.
The second half began with visitors’ winger Ryan Crowther sending a fizzing drive just wide of the post, but Southend were also unlucky when Ben Coker’s dangerous, inswinging free kick from the right channel had to be pushed out by the alert Davies.
Corr then headed off target at the far post when he should have done better, and the visitors brought on Jon Parkin and Jamille Matt to try and create an aerial threat.
Southend though stood firm, and despite the visitors’ enjoying plenty of possession, Daniel Bentley did not have to make a save.
With 81 minutes gone, Will Atkinson’s surging run into the box was needlessly ended by Jeff Hughes, whose trip was correctly punished by the referee. Barry Corr shook off the attentions of Conor Clifford to claim the right to take it, and sent the ball high into Davies’ right-hand corner.
Clifford could have made it three two minutes later when he found space on the edge of the box, but his low drive struck the outside of the post.
In the end it was a comfortable last few minutes for Southend, whose determination and work rate had nullified their high-flying opponents. Ryan Cresswell stayed behind to clap all four sides of the ground, but the big number 16 cut a pleasingly disconsolate figure as the home fans celebrated a rare home success.

Roots Hall celebrates greatest night for years – Southend 2-2 Orient

21 Feb

SIX years of pent-up frustration, heartache and woe was released into the night sky as Southend’s fans spilled onto the pitch to celebrate victory over rivals Orient and a place at Wembley for the first time in 83 years.
Every club, apart from a select few of course, has had its hard-luck stories over the years and the likes of Stockport, Wimbledon, Luton and Chester can probably look down their noses at Blues fans in this respect. I don’t want to come over all “woe is me” here – Liverpool fans do enough of that for all of us – but there can’t be too many more who have suffered so much pain in such a short time. Relegation from the Championship was followed by the horrendous penniless slide down the League One trapdoor three years later. Club legend Steve Tilson’s sacking, the constant broken promises over a new stadium, seemingly endless winding up orders and late payment to staff and players as cash flow issues threatened to kill the club altogether. Then, Paul Sturrock’s reign and stability on the pitch followed by more heartache last year as Southend missed out on a trip to Anfield, then automatic promotion despite racking up 84 points (a total that will almost certainly win it this year) as Crawley and Swindon bought promotion, and more despair after losing in the play-offs against Crewe. And, a couple of months ago, missing out on another plum cup tie after being deservedly beaten by Brentford.
But if Sturrock has been accused of building a team of nearly men, they shrugged off that tag with heart and spirit against Orient. But it didn’t look promising early on as a patched up side of loanees, half-fit defenders and the odd first-teamers held on to their slender first-leg advantage for just eight minutes before Dean Cox’s cross was flicked on by David Mooney into the path of Shaun Batt, who guided the ball past Smith with a finish eerily similar to the one Ryan Leonard had conjured up for Southend two weeks previously. The visitors’ impressive 2,300 following went suitably potty and the rest of the 9,400 in attendance slumped in their seats, no doubt thinking “here we go again”.
Sturrock had set out with a 4-4-1-1, Ben Reeves sitting between the midfield and Britt Assombalonga, but it was clear after half an hour the approach was failing and the manager was brave enough to withdraw Alex Woodyard for Barry Corr to try and get the ball to stick in attack.
Blues created little in the opening half, but did have a chance when Assombalonga set Reeves on his way, but the loanee opted to shoot low from 20 yards rather than slip in Ryan Leonard who was better placed to his left, resulting in a comfortable save from Jamie Jones.
Orient looked comfortable and Shaun Batt was causing problems with his pace, but the return of Phillips and Barker lent a calmness to the back line that has been missing of late, and there were few other chances for the O’s, although David Mooney did send an effort onto the roof of the net.
Southend’s first half goal drought at Roots Hall also showed no sign of ending though, and at half time there was little to cheer for the home fans, who headed to the hopelessly inadequate facilities more used to dealing with crowds of 5,500 in the forlorn hope of getting a beer or a pie.
As in the first match at Brisbane Road, the opening 15 minutes of the second half was Southend’s best spell of the game. When Assombalonga was crudely scythed down by Mattieu Baudry down the left hand channel, it gave the cultured right foot of Kevan Hurst the opportunity to add to his 16 assists this season. As the ball was floated into the far post, Assombalonga got enough on the ball to knock it down to Barry Corr, who thumped a half-volley into the South Stand net off the underside of the bar. Wild celebrations followed, but with 61 minutes on the clock, there was still plenty of time to go.
Assombalonga could have given Blues a cushion from a Clohessy cross just a minute later, but his header was straight at Jones and he took a knock to the head in the process. As play swung to the other end, Shaun Batt forced a save out of Paul Smith from a tight angle.
And then came the panic. For no apparent reason, Blues committed footballing suicide by dropping deep and allowing the visitors to attack. Roots Hall got nervous very quickly, and Lee Cook began to orchestrate proceedings in midfield. The tie-equalling goal came on 72 minutes when a sloppy ball from Ben Reeves caught Sean Clohessy, already heading up the pitch on the charge, out of position. The cross from the left from Leon McSweeney found Mooney unmarked eight-yards from goal, and Paul Smith could not keep out his firm header.
Dean Cox’s fine low cross between back four and Smith was then toed goalwards by Batt, but the Millwall loanee could only watch on as his effort bounced off the top of the crossbar and into the great unwashed behind the goal.
It was probably the visitors’ big chance as they enjoyed possession around Southend’s box but were restricted to long range efforts. As both sets of players tired, penalties looked inevitable as the clock ticked down to the 90th minute. I don’t think too many in the ground had the stomach for that, so it was a good job what happened next, did.
Kevan Hurst bamboozled Baudry on the left flank before showing the presence of mind to look up and square the ball back to the penalty spot where Ben Reeves was waiting. Despite a lunging challenge from an Orient defender, Reeves got there first and, with a bizarre combination of both feet, guided the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
It all went a bit silly. The stadium literally shook with unbridled joy as the 7,000 home fans celebrated wildly. There were limbs everywhere. I personally ended up about five seats along from where I had been sitting. The board had displayed four minutes, but few had seen that as it was being displayed at the very moment the ball fell to Reeves.
Unfortunately, one fan who had perhaps had too much excitement or alcohol, or perhaps he was just a total idiot, decided to run onto the pitch and disrupt the game just as we needed to see it out. As he was escorted away, the entire ground was united in the chant of “wanker” which seemed a surprise to the miscreant, who clearly thought he would be hailed as some sort of hero. Thick as pigshit as well as excitable, then.
As a result, ref Andy Woolmer added an unbearable amount of stoppage time where Orient launched the ball forward in desperation resulting in some important interventions. After five unbearable minutes, Woolmer blew for full time and the fans spilled onto the pitch in celebration.
The party continued long into the night in the Spread and the Railway. Personally, with all the nerves, stress and excitement going back at least three days, I stayed for a glass of water and left, having to drive home to Chelmsford. Some certain other friends of this fanzine had other ideas and were happily dancing on tables and imbibing dubiously coloured spirits long into the night. The next day at work may have been a struggle for them.
But who cares. Southend United will finally be playing in a Wembley final for the first time, having missed out three times in recent years (Anglo Italian cup in the 90s, Brentford in the LDV 2001 and last year’s play-off semi). It will be an historic moment for us all and it will be nice to have the town behind its football club once again. Tinged with sadness for those who cannot be there, loyal Shrimpers like Graham Jolley, Malcolm ‘Harry’ Roberts and Martin Cranmer, all of who passed away recently and would have surely given so much to see their team at the famous stadium.
Come April 7th, about 30,000 of us will be walking down Wembley way, blue as far as the eye can see, flags waving, before watching our team come out for a national final which we have every chance of winning, despite being underdogs again. What an achievement by Paul Sturrock and his team of patched-up battlers. Savour it, as these days do not come along often.

Dagenham 0-3 Southend

27 Dec

DESPITE this extraordinary run we seem to have found ourselves on, I must admit to a bit of trepidation when waking up on Boxing Day morning on a couple of counts. One was purely after our Boxing Day experience of last year (taking all the in-laws to their first ever Southend game and seeing it abandoned) making me expect the worst. Whilst I am used to disappointment and let downs, I like things to go smoothly when taking the wife, as was planned again this Boxing Day (the rest of her family learnt their lesson). So when it pelted it down with rain all of Christmas Day morning to the point of not being sure we could even drive into Billericay, I was not holding out much hope that Mrs Hewitt was going to get to see the Tomlin and Britt show. Fast forward 24 hours, and a quick phonecall to Dagenham and suddenly I was talking to a lady at the club who even seemed surpised that I should be suggesting the game might be off. Game. On.

Boxing Day football means no public transport and a car parking bun fight, no more so than at Dagenham – a ground that is situated in a place that, even on a bank holiday, you feel sure that come 90 minutes, you are bound to come back to your car and find a parking ticket. It was 12.15 though, and 45 minutes away from kick off. No time to muck about. The ‘chance taking the hit’ concensus was throughly justified a mere 46 minutes later. The concourse bar was buzzing, and a quick (and average) pint of Worthingtons went down the hatch. Anybody that ordered a second or third might well have regretted it. We had barely had time to find our seats and already Christmas had got better. An unsurpisingly unchanged Blues side picked up where there left off on Friday. Within a minute, Daggers’ got in a pickle out by the touchline, Tomlin got hold of the ball and just ran. If this was September, he’d have picked out a cross, and might well have failed at that. This is December though, and this is a new Gavin Tomlin. There was only one thing on his mind, and Daggers’ fans probably couldn’t believe what they were seeing when he ran goalwards and promptly smashed it into the back of the net. I hadn’t even had time to point out to the lady who Gavin Tomlin was.

We remained on the front foot, and not 15 minutes later, Assombalonga displayed ridiculous skill by bringing a ball down, playing a one-two with Laird on the edge of the box (if memory serves me correctly), got down the inside left channel and put it in the middle for Tomlin to score again. Gavin had netted as many times in front of the Daggers fans in 15 minutes as he did during his whole time there. He must have been higher than Bobby Gillespie in the 90s.

Even having seen such excellent away performances as Torquay and Wimbledon lately, I must admit, with Daggers in good form, not even I was ready for this onslaught, and to be fair to the home side, as can be very annoying, they discovered how to play only after going 2-0 down. Sam Williams started to be a bit of a handful for Cresswell, and they started to get on top of things a bit. But the combination of Laird and Mikandawire, as has been stated in the past, were proving to everyone how important keeping hold of these two really are when assessing our promotion hopes, and spent large chunks of the rest of the half protecting the back four, and anything that did slip through was dealt with brilliantly by the confident combination of Prosser and Cresswell.

We held off til half time, which was vital, and you got the feeling that if we got a third it was Goodnight Vienna. And so it proved. Some more excellent work from Tomlin on the left allowed him to hold onto the ball and pick out an inside ball to the waiting Kevan Hurst who guided the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box. It was good timing on his part, as his family happened to be sat in front of me, and despite a couple of young girls in his group prior to the goal already doing some Boxing Day sales shopping on their phones, he certainly made it a family day to remember by celebrating right in front of them.

And that, pretty much was that. This side don’t really let go of two goal leads, let alone three, and you could say it petered out, but there couldn’t be any complaints. For once, we scored when we were on top, and we stifled when we needed to stifle. And that, in my book, is what you need to do to go up, and anything else is a bonus. This run will end (though I have no idea when at the moment), and if this team responds to that defeat in the right manner, then talk of league 1 really should be happening more regularly around the Roots Hall faithful. Happy Christmas indeed.

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.

Blues run riot at the Kingsmeadow

23 Nov

WITH all our decent local away games being thoughtfully scheduled for Tuesday nights this season, it was a last minute decision to take a half day from work and head down to Norbiton to see the Blues against the Wombles, who we thought could be nicely distracted by the unwelcome prospect of an FA Cup tie with the club that stole their identity in 11 days time.
Whether they were or not, after getting into London earlier (albeit not as early as I would have liked due to the predictable incompetence of Greater Anglia) to meet a fellow believer, we reckoned this game would definitely not top the 4-1 win at Kingsmeadow on New Year’s Eve 2011.
He decided not to join me as I went to meet my usual travelling companion at Waterloo, where we crammed onto a train full of city commuters returning home to London suburbia.
Having prised my head from someone’s armpit and alighted at Norbiton, it was off to the Peel, a pub near Norbiton station which has a rather infamous strip bar at the back. Seeing as I was meeting a friend of my girlfriend’s, we eschewed the delights of Eastern European crack-addicts dancing for £1 in a pot to drink in the main pub.
I had agreed to take Francisco, the aforementioned pal of my other half to the game because he had moved here from Chile two years ago and as yet had never seen an English football match despite being a keen fan of Universidad de Chile, from his home city of Santiago. I gallantly decided I would help him avoid the grim situation of paying over £50 to sit with the prawn sandwich brigade at some Premiership Arena and try and get him hooked on the Shrimpers.
It didn’t look like the plan would work for the first 35 minutes. Southend looked lethargic and were dragged down to Wimbledon’s level, which clearly was the bottom end of this division. The football was poor and there wasn’t an awful lot of action. Mark Phillips went closest for us with a header after a rare successful short corner routine. They hit the top of the bar with a long-range shot, Britt Assombalonga collided violently with the advertising hoardings, and that was about it until the resurgent Gavin Tomlin decided he would step up and sort this mess out.
Kevan Hurst flicked on a skidding ball to find Tomlin 35 yards from goal and on the shoulder of the last defender. He was inexplicably not closed down and allowed to advance, and punished the Dons defence ruthlessly, firing a low shot into the far corner of the net from just outside the box. It was the finish of a man bang in form and unrecognisable from the shot-shy scuffer we had seen in the first couple of months of the season.
The mood at half time was confident but the game was by no means over and if anything Wimbledon had just shaded it before we went in front. However, the second half was a completely different ball game.
Blues started to get hold of the ball and cause problems with their work rate and the running of the front two. But it was at set-pieces where the game was won. Kevan Hurst has received a bit of stick for some of his deliveries at Roots Hall but his corner on 61 minutes was begging to be put away and it was, by Ryan Cresswell at the far post who powered the ball into the net from inside the six yard box.
Hurst himself then had a great chance to make it three as he powered through the middle and incredibly found himself bearing down on Neil Sullivan’s goal with three players around him – all wearing yellow shirts. But instead of knocking the ball to the side for someone else to slot into an empty net, he opted for a tame side-footed shot that the former Scotland goalkeeper comfortably saved.
Just as we were all hoping we wouldn’t live to regret that miss, Hurst made amends by whipping in a wicked inswinging free kick for the unmarked Tomlin to glance home with his head from six yards. Criminal marking, but that’s Wimbledon’s problem. Blues were now cruising and it seemed a question of how many. The home side barely had an effort on goal – their most convincing was a ricochet off a Clohessy clearance which went ten yards wide.
Sub Barry Corr had come on with 20 minutes to go for the tiring Assombalonga, and with two minutes left he got onto the scoresheet for the third time this season when a low corner somehow fell at his feet 12 yards from goal and he controlled before drilling a low bouncing volley into the corner of the net.
As we happily made our way out of the ground, Francisco diplomatically said “it was a good score” perhaps meaning the quality of the football hadn’t exactly bowled him over, but Blues really didn’t need to get out of second gear for most of the night. Incredibly, it had also topped last season’s result and was a personal milestone for myself – the biggest away win I had seen, five days after the 15th anniversary of my first ever Blues match on the road.
Jamie Forsyth

5 Sep

Ryan Cresswell scored the winner after being sent upfront

A LAST-GASP header from Ryan Cresswell earned Southend a deserved passage into the second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Southend should have been out of sight by half time. Gavin Tomlin struck a post when it looked easier to score, and Ryan Leonard headed a cross by Michael Timlin against the crossbar. However, the home side went in at the break a goal behind after Brendan Kiernan had got in unopposed down the left and crossed for Frankie Merrifield to slot the ball past debutant Paul Smith on 39 minutes.
Blues drew level when Britt Assombalonga tricked his way past two defenders on the left flank and was clumsily bundled over by loanee defender George Francomb. Gavin Tomlin took the penalty and slotted it neatly into the bottom left corner of the goal, sending Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz the wrong way.
Southend continued to press, and Jaimez-Ruiz denied Assombalonga and John Spicer with excellent saves.
Smith had to be alert at the other end when sub Chris Barker almost diverted a cross into his own net, but in the final minute of stoppage time, fellow sub Neil Harris crossed for Ryan Cresswell, sent up front in the dying moments, to head powerfully past the goalkeeper.

Rayo Vallecano B 1-1 Southend

31 Jul

Rayo Vallecano B 1 (Ruben 10)
Southend United 1 (Eastwood 17)

ANOTHER superb training facility in the middle of nowhere, Blues turned up with problems from the start.
The coach was having hydraulic problems which meant for a while it looked like the kit could not be reached from the hold. That problem resolved, it looked for a while that the game wouldn’t take place as the grass pitch that we were supposed to be using had no markings at all.
Pitch three, a dry looking Astroturf pitch, was offered as an alternative but Sturrock and the boys didn’t look keen on the idea. Finally pitch four was agreed, a modern 3G pitch with a small bleacher style seated stand which housed the Southend contingent and the locals.
The crowd numbered 167 including the ubiquitous local with a megaphone who sang for the entire 90 minutes although strangely he was wearing a Cadiz scarf.

The row over the pitch delayed the kick off to 7.15pm but it was still 33 degrees when the game started, Blues reverting to 4-4-2.
Blues had the opening chance with Prosser heading wide when a goal looked certain. Rayo came into the game with a spell of pressure, Smith flapped at a cross conceding a needless corner and then again showed a vampirical fear of crosses when the corner came over. Rayo pressured again and took the lead 10 minutes in when Ruben found the corner from 20 yards out with a powerful strike.
Seven minutes later Blues were level, Hall took a free kick on the left flank Benyon headed goalwards and Bielsa could only parry the ball to his right side and Eastwood gratefully volleyed home from close range.
A strange incident occurred in the 22 minute, Owusu thought he had been fouled and grabbed the ball, the ref awarded a free kick for handball.
Owusu went down to the ground indicating he was injured and then walked off the pitch and out of the ground to take no further part in the match. David Martin had a good opportunity to put Southend 2-1 up but headed over when unmarked.
The referee failed to spot a blatant foul on Coughlan which lead to vehement appeals for a penalty.
The first half ended at 1-1 with the pick of the players being Elliot Benyon who toiled manfully upfront with Freddy playing just off him.

The only change at half time was Bentley on for Smith. The young keeper was called into action early on saving smartly from Suso and then Nanclares.
Just after the hour Sturrock called on four of his subs, putting Cresswell up front with Tomlin.
Five minutes later Mark Phillips came only to be booked within a minute for a deliberate handball when attacking a corner. Cresswell battled well upfront and had a couple of decent chances, he was booked however when his foot went high on a Rayo defender.
Southend finished in the ascendancy and should have won the match, the lively Tomlin had a great chance on 83 minutes but headed straight at the keeper.

At the conclusion of the match the players asked for the fans to come onto the pitch for a tour photograph which was a nice touch. Megaphone man had the last laugh, however, gatecrashing the club photo. Fair play to him.

1.Bielsa (sub:13.Carlos 46) 2.Owusu (sub:12.Pepe 23) 3.Nacho 4.Gabri 5.Suso 6.Thiobane (sub:14.Mario 57) 7.Manquillo (sub:15.Nanclares 46) 8.Juanito (sub:16.Diego 46) 9.Nesa (sub:17.Valdivia 46) 10.Chevi © (sub:18.Alberto Oca 46) 11.Ruben (sub:19.Ranera 46)
Booking: Owusu (handball)

1.Smith (sub:13.Bentley 46) 2.Clohessy (sub:15.Straker 65) 3.Prosser 4.Leonard (sub:17.Ferdinand 65) 5.Coughlan (sub:12.Phillips 68) 6.Barker © 7.Hall 8.Brogan (sub:16.Hurst 75) 9.Benyon (sub:14.Cresswell 65) 10.Eastwood (sub:18.Tomlin 65) 11.Martin
Unused sub:19.Harris
Bookings: Leonard (foul), Phillips (handball), Cresswell (foul)

Peter Miles

Trialists impress as Southend triumph at Braintree

22 Jul

Stephen Brogan scored twice.

EX-ROTHERHAM winger Stephen Brogan caught the eye as Southend continued their warm-up fixtures at Braintree Town.
The 24-year-old trialist was on target twice in three minutes midway through the second half to hand Blues victory.
Paul Sturrock’s side were also indebted to former Scotland under-21 goalkeeper Mark Brown, on trial from Hibs, who denied Sean Marks and Daniel Sparkes during the first half.
Sturrock praised both Brogan, who has been trialling at Exeter, and Brown in his post-match interview, giving clues they may be on the plane when Blues fly out to Madrid on Friday.
Other guest appearances came from ex-Bournemouth midfielder John Spicer, who laid on Brogan’s first with a well-weighted through pass, ex-Sheffield United front man Jordan Robertson, anchor man Yoann Folly, tidy American midfielder Anton Peterlin and a central defender called Mohamed, who hails from the Yemen.
Kevan Hurst had two good chances in the first half before Marks and Sparkes tried their best to give Blues food for thought.
But the opening goal came from Brogan, whose 20-yard daisy cutter found the corner of the net just past the hour mark.
His second on 64 minutes was a delightfully-taken 16-yard chip over former Blues stopper Nathan McDonald.
The match petered out in typical pre-season fashion, but Sturrock will be pleased with the performance and clean sheet against a side only one level below Southend and who have scored 16 goals in three previous friendly matches.

Blues edge past spirited Wakering

19 Jul

THE Shrimpers’ traditional pre-season trip to Burroughs Park produced a closer than anticipated affair, with the home side running their more illustrious visitors right to the wire.
Despite Southend fielding their strongest available squad, the Rovers drew first blood after just six minutes. Crowd favourite, Billy Johnson beat Daniel Bentley at his near post with a twenty-five yard free kick.
The goal spurred Southend into life. New signing Gavin Tomlin twice hitting the frame of the goal following good flank play from Clohessy and Elliot Benyon, while Rovers custodian Louis Godwin-Green had to be alert as the action encamped itself in his penalty area.
Eventually, the Rovers rearguard buckled. With 21 minutes played, Luke Prosser met Ryan Hall’s right wing corner with a powerful header to restore parity.
With Southend enjoying the lion’s share of the game, the majority of the 821 crowd would have expected the visitors to push on and put the game out of sight, but they were soon in for another shock when Luca Frankis raced clear of the Shrimpers defence before finishing neatly low into Bentley’s right hand corner.
Rovers lead lasted only six minutes before Elliot Benyon followed up to head home after Godwin-Green had saved his initial effort, and two minutes later Southend took the lead when Tomlin opened his Blues account following good work from Benyon.
With both team’s changing personnel at the interval, the second period took the guise of a completely different game. Rovers rarely threatened to level the score, while Freddy Eastwood missed a close range effort you’d have put your mortgage on his scoring. That aside, only a late effort from Kevan Hurst threatened to add to the first half goal feast.
Rovers’ player-manager Dan Trenkel was delighted with his team’s display, telling me he is now faced with the nice problem of picking 16 from the 23 players used for their Essex Senior League opener on August 4.
Rovers 1st half
Godwin-Green, Gibson, Drury, Mbamarah, Sparrow, Finneran, Pugsley, Simon-Parson, Frankis, Nash, Johnson.
Rovers 2nd half
Watts, Hepburn, D Trenkel, Williams, Dean, Webb, M Trenkel, Keys, Holmes, Mbamarah (Benjamin)
Shrimpers 1st half
Bentley, Clohessy, Straker, Ferdinand, Creswell, Prosser, Hall, Harris, Tomlin, Benyon, Spicer.
Shrimpers 2nd half
Bentley, Woodyard, Leonard, Phillips, Barker, Paxman, Hurst, Eastwood, Martin, Folly (Agyakwa), Christie
Brian Jeeves