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Blue tinted optimist
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land

Richie Foran chose the right moment to score his first goal for Southend as his injury time strike won the points against dogged resistance at Roots Hall this evening.

In a tough, combative match where much of the football was scrappy and goalmouth action at a premium, Southend managed an ugly win against a Burnley side who have not won in the Championship since November and who are in free fall towards league one. In fact, they are probably one of the favourites to go down as they have forgotten how to win and despite some decent approach play, failed to trouble Flahavan with a decent effort on target all night. With the other sides at the bottom fighting for survival they will find it very hard to stop the rot.

This was a game where the highlights package would be brief. Each side certainly gave no quarter when it came to effort and commitment, but quality was either lacking or snuffed out and it had 0-0 written all over it from the 10th minute on when Lee Bradbury found himself clear on goal. He then inexplicably decided to take the ball wider than he needed too and seemed to be in two minds as to whether to shoot or square the ball. He ended up doing something that resembled both and the keeper was consequently untroubled as the ball squirmed wide.

There really was little of note that took place in the first half although Southend did try and play some decent stuff. Gower and Eastwood dragged shots wide but at the other end the lively Wade Elliott led stand in Southend left back Lewis Hunt a merry dance at times. The visitors however lacked decent delivery and a deflected long range effort that Darryl comfortably smothered was all they had to show for their efforts in the first period.

In the second half Blues upped the tempo but Burnley stood firm. However, it became apparent as to why they have not won for so long as they seemed devoid of ideas up front and were not a decent team to watch.

JCR made way for new boy Lloyd Sam and Bradbury was replaced by Foran with about 20 minutes left. Almost immediately Sam was involved as the ball fell to him 12 yards out but he made a comical attempt at a goalbound header which certainly raised a few eyebrows. He did show a nice turn of pace on occasion and looked as though he may be a decent acquisition. Foran was hungry from the off although sadly was no more effective up front than Bradbury had been. With 10 minutes left Gower made way for Harrold and Foran switched to the left. Chances were still at a premium but you could see the Southend players were just not going to give this up. It certainly would have been 2 points dropped if it had stayed 0-0. With just over a minute played of the 3 that had been allotted for injury time the winner came and it was pure Route one. A long kick from Flahavan was headed on by Harrold. Foran was already running when a Burnley defender headed the ball back to the keeper and this gamble took him to the ball first and he toe poked it past Coyne and into the net. The crowd cheers were as much relief as delight and it felt like a big, big win.

Southend in truth did not really deserve any more than a draw because they failed to create another clear chance in the match but they have at long last learnt to play for the entire game and not just the scheduled 45 minutes per half. Two home games running has seen points gained from injury time goals and this is the sort of determination that will preserve Blues their Championship status. The nature of this win with such a late goal could have such a positive impact and really give some impetus to the survival push. Two massive games against Leeds and Hull follow now and we are without our talisman McCormack for both. But having won 2 league games on the spin for only the second time this season we must push on and hopefully by the time he returns to the side we will have hauled ourselves further away from the relegation zone and pushed two of our rivals back into it.

Ratings –

Flahavan – 7 – Had nothing to do but did claim some crosses well.

Francis – 8 – A vastly improved performance and not only was his attacking threat evident but he made some crucial tackles.
Sodje – 8.5 – MOM - This was the dominant Sodje of old! Efe is back and I hope he maintains this form for the rest of the season. Had Akinbiyi in his pocket all match.
Clarke – 8 – Confident, assured performance and ran Efe close for MOM. You can see why Blackpool were gutted to lose him. Gives everything for the cause.
Hunt – 6 – Did a job as a left back for someone who isn’t a left back. There were times when we were crying out for Hammells cultured left foot but Hunt was better equipped pace wise to cope with the speed of Elliott.

Gower – 6 – Fairly low key and couldn’t really get anything going.
Maher – 7 – The midfield was a tough place to be tonight and he was forever being closed down and stopped from playing his usual game.
McCormack – 7 – Again, his pace and energy were suppressed a little as he wasn’t allowed to get into his usual game but his drive and energy takes him all over the park and he has been our missing link.
JCR – 6 – Tried hard but the few crosses he managed to get in were not up to the standard he has recently set himself.

Eastwood – 8 – Great work rate and really looks as though he wants to finish with a flourish.
Bradbury – 4 – Totally ineffective and probably due a spell on the bench.

Subs –

Foran – 8 – Came on, looked hungry and pacey, notched the late winner
Sam – 6 – Looked a little ring rusty but showed glimpses of promise
Harrold – 7 – Yet again changes the game by giving defenders a new challenge when they are tiring.

The Ref – Mr Miller – 6 – A bit fussy at times and booked McCormack based on the Burnley player staying down when he hadn’t even awarded a free kick beforehand.
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