Southend 2 – 1 Blackpool
8/4/06 - 15:00
Travelling 229 miles (from Manchester) down to Southend-on-sea to see us play wasn't a viable option due to me getting up at 11 this morning and also my wallet is still feeling the pinch from the Oldham game. So once again Internet commentary courtesy of BBC Essex was switched on and once again a late winner proved a heartbreaker for the Pool who matched the top of the league side for the majority of the match.
Simon Grayson was forced into one change for the match, John Murphy was ruled out due to a hamstring injury that he picked up last week in training, Keith Lasley, who him self has just returned from injury took Murphy's place. This meant a 4-4-2 formation with Lasley on the right of midfield, which meant a front pairing of Williams and Parker.
For Southend Lewis Hunt replaced the injured Efe Sodje for his first start in nearly four months and Lee Bradbury replaced Mark Bentley in midfield.
Southend started of brightly, with the front pairing of Eastwood and Goater looking dangerous.
Pool's first effort came from Jason Wilcox, his shot from outside of the box rose over Darryl Flahavan's crossbar.
Southend had a great chance to take the lead on 8 minutes, a great cross from Gower found Adam Barrett, his header was well saved by Lee Jones on the goal line.
Jones was called into action a few minutes later, Jones' saved with his legs from an Eastwood shot after a succession of Southend corners.
Pool nearly took the lead through an unlikely scorer, a header from Rob Edwards was saved and then spilled by Flahavan.
And from that it was the Sasiders that were on top, there was penalty claim but looked like a hand to ball on the Southend player rather than deliberate. Keith Lasley was looking to get a goal on his return to the team, he had a shot from a narrow angle which was well saved. A succession of corners pilled on more pressure for the Blues, one which sailed past all the players in the box, just one touch was needed to break the deadlock.
Shaun Goater then should of given the lead to the Blues, 'the goat' found himself clean through on goal, he rounded Jones and then slotted the ball home, but his 'slotting the ball home' wasn’t too good and Peter Clarke was able to catch the ball before it rolled into the net and clear his lines. The goat was fed, but he didn't score.
But as nicknames go, Gareth Williams' the 'Ginger Ninja' is a good one, and it was the Ginger Ninja broke the deadlock to grab his third goal in a tangerine shirt. Great play from Keigan Parker set up Williams, a cross from the Scot found Williams in the box and he stroked the ball away from eight yards with his right foot.
The lads managed to concentrate and not concede in the following minutes after the opening goal. Jones and Rob Edwards managed to nearly mess things up and give Shaun Goater a chance on goal but Jones was able to pounce on the ball to the relief of Edwards
Southend continued to try and force an equaliser before the end of the half but the Seasiders stood strong and took a one nil lead into half time.
At half time, with no commentary on, I listened to the new Richard Ashcroft album, keys to the world, and the Seaiders must have been walking to the away dressing room with the same swagger that the rogue Manc is know for, as they had out performed the League leaders.
Southend came out all guns blazing, in an effort to get early equaliser, but it was the Pool who had a few chances, Hunt clearing his lines well after a corner.
It was all action stuff, Lewis Hunt made a great last ditch tackle and then Goater had a few scappy chances, but the Blues were unable to create any clear cut opportunities.
Simon Grayson made his first change of the match on 55 minutes, Ian Morris replaced Rory Prendergast, who came off sporting a slight injury.
The Seasiders continued to cause problems for a shaky Southend defence who were clearly missing their normal back paring of Spencer Prior and Efe Sodje.
But in Freddie Eastwood the Blues have a very special player, in a one man effort the former Grays player managed to pull Southend back on level terms. He went from the right hand side of the box, beating a couple of men and then slotted the ball in at the near post.
Keigan Parker was pulled down clean through on goal, referee Woolmer waved away the claims and told the Scot to get back up.
With the game on level terms, Southend eased off the accelerator, but with Eastwood still looking dangerous.
Eastwood thought he had got his second of that match, but he shot was adjudged not to of crossed the line after a shot had hit the post and rolled along the goal line.
Steve Tilson, made his first change to the match, Shaun Goater was replaced by Wayne Gray. A second change came a few mites later, Mark Gower replaced by the tricky Mitchell Cole.
The goal scorer Gareth Williams was replaced by Matt Blinkhorn on 80 minites and with ten minutes to go the three points could have gone to either side, but it was Southend who would go home with the points.
Substitute Cole's run resulted in a shot which squirmed under Lee Jones with a bit of help from Luke Gutridge and gave the Blues the lead for the first time in the match with 5 minutes to go.
Ian Morris was then had to come off after picking up an injury, he was replaced by Fox. Despite Clarke going up front Southend killed the game off effectively.
Simon Grayson was confident going into this match against the league leaders, and for 85 mines the Seasiders matched Southend. Freddie Eastwood proved the difference grabbing his 22nd goal of the season. Pressure finally told and a winner that was always going to come, when it did it was slightly lucky.
Flahavan, D Jupp, L Hunt, A Barrett, C Wilson, L Bradbury, L Guttridge, K Maher, M Gower, S Goater, F Eastwood
Subs: W Gray, C Pettefer, M Bentley, M Cole, G Nash
Jones, M Joseph, P Clarke, R Edwards, J Wilcox, K Lasley, M Bean, K Southern, R Prendergast, K Parker, G Williams
Subs: L Pogliacomi, I Morris, D Warrender, D Fox, M Blinkhorn