Southend United 0-2 Cheltenham Town
It’s back to the drawing board after Southend’s mini-revival – two drawn games – came to a spluttering halt, last Saturday.
The high-flying Robins became the third visiting side, this season, to claim maximum points, courtesy of Liam Sercombe’s first-half spot-kick, and a George Lloyd second-half header.
The Shrimpers paid for a sloppy start – mainly for conceding too much territory, but also for unnecessary handballs, one of which lead to Kyle Taylor shoving George Lloyd and were punished when Sercombe’s tenth-minute spot-kick agonizingly squirmed under Mark Oxley.
Cheltenham were equally casual at the back and seven minutes later Goodship – scorer the previous weekend – blew a ‘golden’ chance – after skipper, Jason Demetriou latched on to poor clearance, only for the striker to shoot tamely at a grateful Josh Griffiths.
Further half chances fell to Goodship, having a powerful drive deflected wide before the hitman’s powerful cross-shot was well watched by Griffiths.
Ten minutes from the interval, Shaun Hobson made a crucial block to deny Sercombe a certain second strike, before Elliot Bonds wastefully skied over Oxley’s poor punch out from Hussey’s flag-kick.
Southend continued to labour and Chris Clements was allowed too much time and space to carve open the home defence – who were fortunate to see veteran, Andy Williams’s 43rd-minute effort nestle high into the Frank Walton stand.
It was much the same straight after the turnaround with Harry Lennon somehow clearing a dangerous Williams’ centre literally from under his own crossbar, with Sercombe letting fly from Hussey’s corner, forcing Oxley into a fine block.
But, the Southend defence hadn’t heeded those warnings and completely froze as Lloyd nodded home Hussey’s 52nd minute lofted cross.
Desperate – at times – Shrimpers’ defending kept the score respectable, with Cheltenham’s stopper, Griffiths a virtual spectator.
As the Shrimpers hit rock bottom, boss, Mark Moseley admitted: “I’m very disappointed – it was a bad afternoon for us. It’s very much a step backwards. We came up short and were really slow out of the blocks.
“We struggled to get going, but we gave a couple of soft goals away. Cheltenham are very organized, but we played very much on the back foot. Today is a stark reminder that we need to work harder.”
Moseley added: “Cheltenham are one of the best sides in the league. They’ve got good players. They’re probably a bit further on in their journey. We’ve learned some lessons today.”
Facing a battle royale, at Paul Scholes’s Salford City, Moseley revealed: “Going into the Salford game, there won’t be any knee-jerk reaction – as this side has done well over the last couple of weeks. It’s just a case of reminding us who we are and what we’re about.”
The former Weymouth boss admitted: “We really needed a moment to lift us today and we did miss our crowd today. We were lacking something out there today and sometimes the crowd gives us that lift. We were flat today. We were looking for a spark and we didn’t quite get it today.”
Southend have landed a new loan signing, midfielder James Olayinka, from Arsenal, and Moseley concluded: “James adds a fresh pair of legs, energy and fresh ideas. And, makes us more competitive.”
Cheltenham manager, Shane Duffy, added: “We got a good reaction from the midweek Grimsby defeat. But, at one-nil it was important we didn’t give Southend the carrot temptation of getting back in the game. We got that second goal and saw it through.”
Blues’ centre-back, Hobson, admitted: “As a team, we are way better than that. Cheltenham were so organized and pressed – we should have matched them. The second goal was crucial – it ‘killed’ us.”
The Manchester-born defender concluded: “On our day, we can beat any team in this league – but we need to keep learning and getting points on the board – as we had showed in our previous two matches.”
Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Harry Lennon, Timothee Dieng, Shaun Hobson, Nathan Ralph, Jason Demetriou, Kyle Taylor (Terrell Egbri 57′), Kazaiah Sterling, Brandon Goodship Kenny Coker 83′), Emile Acquah (Ashley Nathaniel-George 57′) Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Tom Clifford, Harry Phillips, Richard Taylor.
Cheltenham Town: Josh Griffiths, Matty Blair, Charlie Raglan (Lewis Freestone 87′), Ben Tozer (captain), Will Boyle, Chris Hussey, Elliot Bonds (Conor Thomas 82′), Liam Sercombe, Chris Clements, Andy Williams, George Lloyd (Alfie May 82′) Subs not used: Max Harris (GK), Reuben Reid, Alex Addai, Grant Horton.
Assistants: P.Kelly & M.Webb
Fourth Official: J.Stokes