Battling Blues are back in the race

Southend United 3-1 Grimsby Town 

Surely, they couldn’t, could they? All of a sudden Southend United – rock bottom of Sky Bet League Two – are, well, rocking.

Make no mistake, this was a gritty display, it had to be against a Grimsby Town side, themselves struggling to find any rhythm towards the foot of the table. But this side is beginning to show glimpses of class as well as nous – concentrating on the positives and offering answers to those of us that have questioned them for what seems like an eternity. 

Of course, there’s still some way to go but four points from six coupled with back-to-back clean sheets had lifted both hope and expectation amongst the Roots Hall faithful. Boss Mark Molesley urged his side to use Saturday’s win over Scunthorpe as a catalyst: “We’ve got to remember what brought us that win. Hard work, endeavour, togetherness, the crowd and us together as one,” he enthused

But you know, perhaps Southend will fight their way out of this predicament? In a lightning start, Kyle Taylor teed up and rifled home from twenty-yards after just 25 seconds, this after Grimsby failed to clear a low centre from Kazaiah Sterling

Blues controlled the early exchanges. However, they received a huge let-off when Ira Jackson’s close-range attempt rebounded to safety after striking the foot of an upright.

Blues continued to produce the brighter football with what little possession they grasped but survived another anxious moment when Owen Windsor’s looping header came back off the face of the bar. Meanwhile, Arsenal loanee, James Olayinka looked to replicate his match-winning antics of the weekend – firing at Grimsby stopper, Sam Russell, after finding some space from eighteen-yards.

But it was a case of third time lucky for the Mariners, whose direct and aggressive approach was beginning to cause the hosts some issues. In first-half stoppage-time, Jackson was on hand to level the score after Blues stopper, Mark Oxley, had kept out Harry Clifton’s initial effort.

The setback offered a test of Southend’s recently-discovered character – Molesley responded by throwing Terrell Egbri and Simeon Akinola into the fray in a bid to offer a greater threat. 

But the home side would pass with flying colours. Within nine second-half minutes, they were back in front with a goal straight off the training ground. Sam Hart’s driven flag-kick to the edge of the box was met by Tom Clifford – the Blues defender firing low into the corner of the net – the Grimsby backline flummoxed.

Filipe Morais was too high, but Grimsby’s race was to be as good as run in bizarre fashion. 36-year-old Greg Halford had signed a short term deal with the Blues which was announced earlier in the day. The former Colchester and Sheffield United man nodded Clifford’s deep centre goalwards – the unfortunate Russell left red-faced as the ball squirmed between his legs and over the line for Southend’s third of the evening.

Grimsby’s miserable trip to south-east Essex was complete when skipper, Luke Waterfall received a second yellow card in the final seconds.

Incredibly, having been cut adrift just a couple of weeks ago, Southend are now a single point from safety. They return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, December 19 when they face Mansfield Town at the One Call Stadium (3pm).

Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, James Olayinka (Michael Klass 89’), Timothee Dieng, Tom Clifford, Kazaiah Sterling (Terrell Egbri 46’), Emile Acquah (Simeon Akinola 46’), Jason Demetriou (Capt), Kyle Taylor (Alan McCormack 64’), Sam Hart (Greg Halford 64’) Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Ashley Nathaniel-George

Booked: None

Goals: Kyle Taylor 1’, Tom Clifford 54’, Greg Halford 75’

Grimsby Town: Dam Russell, Luke Hendrie, Danny Preston, Danny Rose (Filipe Morais 23’), Luke Waterfall (Capt), Owen Windsor (Montel Gibson 65’), Harry Clifton (James Tilley 65’), Ira Jackson Jr (Alhagi Touray Sisay 79’), Owura Edwards (Kyle Bennett 79’), Elliott Hewitt, Mattie Pollock Subs not used: James McKeown (GK), Terry Taylor

Booked: Elliott Hewitt (foul), Luke Waterfall (foul)

Sent-off: Luke Waterfall (foul – second booking)

Goals: Ira Jackson Jr 45+4’

Referee: Sam Allison

Assistants: Aaron Farmer and Gregory Read

Fourth Official: Lloyd Wood

Attendance: 2,000

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]