Well done Steve Tilson and the boys...
No boring 1-0 this one. A truly enthralling match at the Hall in which Southend emerged as worthy winners through an excellent long-range free kick from Dan Harding on 18 minutes.
Southend started well in the first half with a virtuoso performance from Francis Laurent making his first start for the club. Every ball forward he kept at his feet. Every spin left his marker in a heap. And every surging run seemed to cause havoc in the opposition's defence. He really was that good.
Leeds picked up the pace a little towards the end of the half and began to force the issue displaying a faultless passing game. That their passing didn't lead to anything more serious could only be put down to the superb effort from Southend with so many players - Revell, Laurent, Kanu, Sawyer and Christophe particularly - running themselves into the ground.
A contentious penalty decision (from where I was sitting anyway) denied Blues the opportunity to go further ahead.
The second half led to more of the same - the Blues full of running and commitment, Leeds stepping up their passing game. On 70 minutes, Laurent went down in the box holding his leg - and then six minutes later he was replaced. With Barnard and Freedman injured, Tilson opted for Scannell up front to stretch the game a little and help us hit the more resurgent Leeds on the break.
On 81 minutes, Sawyer, due his usual break, was replaced by Grant, and then Macca replaced an exhausted Revell on 83.
Federici 7 - Fantastic save down to his left to keep us at 1-0. Would've given him more but his kicking tonight often just gave the ball back to Leeds to build from the back.
Francis 6.5 - Still trying to find his form, but a useful contribution.
Barrett 9 - Two stunning tackles to deny Beckford shots on goal.
Clarke 7.5 - Typical Clarke performance. Tough and committed but with two or three scary moments.
Harding 9 - Great to have him back. Good overlapping. Fantastic first free kick which led to the goal. Almost grabbed another with a second free kick later in the game.
Sawyer 7 - Usual gutsy performance. Less dominant than usual but it was an interesting battle against a strong looking Leeds midfield.
Christophe 9 - The Credit-Crunch Patrick Vieira. Always seems to be there or there abouts. Some excellent balls forward and some crucial tackles won that he didn't seem to be anywhere near.
Robson Kanu 7 - Gave a lot tonight, but still want to see him do more damage.
Revell 9 - Another excellent performance from Revs. With Barney and Freedman due to return soon enough, he's doing the business right now and deserves to keep his place in the team. Won most of his headers, often found his man, and gave the defenders not a moments peace.
Laurent 9.5 - MOTM - A truly exquisite debut that left me with stars in my eyes. "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be Thierry Henry". A near faultless performance and entirely predictable that he wouldn't t survive the 90 minutes as he ran, ran and ran at the opposition defence. Amazing level of arrogance for such a young man, but it's a joy to watch. Really looks to have something about him. Couldn't give him ten as he should''ve squared one particular opportunity in the second half to set Revell in for goal, but I'm being picky. Awesome debut.
Betsy 7 - Another who worked hard, but he needs to back himself more. I think he's a better player than he thinks he is.
Scannell 5.5 - Not sure he was the right player to bring to play the role he did today but we didn't have too many options. Clean through on one occasion but couldn't find the shot.
Macca 6 - Pretty anonymous but had less than ten minutes to impose himself.
Grant 7 - Did his job well.