Barnstorming Blues sink Spireites 

Brian Jeeves

Southend United v Chesterfield – Vanarama National League – Roots Hall Stadium – Report

Southend United 2-1 Chesterfield

Depleted Southend United staged an incredible second-half comeback to see off runaway Vanarama National League leaders Chesterfield in what proved to be a barnstorming encounter in front of the biggest crowd of the season at Roots Hall Stadium.  

Nagging injuries coupled with the absence of Daniel Kanu and Mauro Vilhete being away on international duty, left Blues boss, Kevin Maher with very few options and just two on the bench. And despite calls from sections of the support for a postponement, Maher insisted his side were ready to face a Chesterfield side unbeaten in thirteen league matches and fifteen in all competitions.

“There’s been a lot of noise that’s out of our control. We’ll have to wait and see what team we can put out but we’ll deal with that in the next couple of days and see where we’re at,” the Blues chief explained.

“All I can do is get a team ready to go out and play. We always want to play on a Saturday at three o’clock and that’ll never change.”

Once again, the Roots Hall faithful responded to Maher and his troops, with more than 8,200 packing into the Blues’ rustic home and providing every encouragement toward their favourites. They were not to be disappointed.

The sizable audience was almost rewarded when Jack Bridge met a Gus Scott-Morriss centre with a half-volley, only to be thwarted by a flying save from Spireites stopper, Harry Tyrer, while Harry Cardwell was unable to direct his header goalwards when following up.

Liam Mandeville drove across the face of the goal as the visitors began to find their feet. Meanwhile, Tyrer produced another superb save, diving to his left to claw out a crisp strike from Cardwell.

Blues continued to press. Nathan Ralph, making his one-hundredth appearance for the club, fired into the side-netting after Cardwell had flicked on. But it was Chesterfield who took the lead in controversial circumstances. Will Grigg was on hand to convert a Michael Jacobs cross. However, there was more than a suspicion of off-side in the build-up. It was the former Northern Ireland international’s tenth goal of the season.

It was well-contested stuff. David Martin saved from Ryan Colclough at the foot of a post. Then the former Altrincham man fired narrowly wide as the Spireites looked menacingly for a second on either side of the break.

Indeed, Chesterfield was starting to turn the screw Martin denied Grigg with an unorthodox save. But on the hour, Southend were provided with an opportunity to restore parity. Branden Horton tripped Harry Taylor. Bridge held his nerve to convert the resulting spot-kick.

Within minutes, Southend turned the game on its head. Wes Fonguck tried to pick out Jack Wood. However, the ball appeared to deflect off Darren Oldaker and through the hands of Tyrer. Roots Hall roared its approval.

Martin was again forced into action, this time saving from Tom Naylorb as Chesterfield frantically searched for a way back into the game. 

But they were met with a wall of stern resistance and determination from the home side.

Make no mistake, this had been a game of high quality which wouldn’t have looked out of place a division or two higher. Bridge was off-target with a speculative attempt from distance, while Grigg was agonisingly close as the sides exchanged opportunities in stoppage time. 

But the world against them appears to be a situation in which Southend excels. This was the Blues’ eighth league victory from ten at Roots Hall, lifting them into fourteenth place, seven points shy of the play-off places.

Southend United return to Vanarama National League action on Saturday, November 25 when they face Gateshead at the International Stadium (3pm).

Southend United: Martin, Scott-Morriss, Kensdale, Bridge, Ralph, Husin, Taylor, Coker, Wood (Mooney 83′), Cardwell, Fonguck (Kabongolo 90+2′)

Booked: None

Goals: Bridge (penalty) 61′, Oldaker (own-goal) 63′

Chesterfield: Tyrer, Palmer, Naylor, Jacobs, Grimes, Oldaker (Dobra 65′), Horton, Banks (Jones 65′), Mandeville, Grigg, Colclough (Berry 87′) Subs Not used: Freckleton, Quigley

Booked: Jones (foul)

Goals: Grigg 27′

Referee: Stephen Parkinson 

Assistants: Ryan Head and Colman O’Meara

Fourth Official: Harry Wager.

Attendance: 8,275 (493 from Chesterfield)


Brian Jeeves