Cardwell’s brace sends Blues through

Southend United v Darlington – Isuzu FA Trophy Fourth Round – Roots Hall Stadium – Report

Southend United 2-1 Darlington

A stoppage-time winner from two-goal Harry Cardwell saw Southend United through to a 2-1 win against Darlington at Roots Hall as the Blues advanced to the last sixteen of the Isuzu FA Trophy.

Kevin Maher selected an unchanged starting line-up from the side that defeated Solihull Moors 3-0 win with fit again striker Jake Hyde taking his place on the substitutes bench.

Following an early downpour, the match only went ahead after a 2pm pitch inspection and it was National League North leaders Darlington who took the lead in the very first minute after Kaine Felix played in Jack Lambert to fire past Blondy Nna Noukeu from ten yards.  

The Quakers man looked suspiciously offside when receiving the ball and with the Blues’ defence having stopped in anticipation of the play being taken back, the assistant referee kept his flag down allowing Lambert to finish in the top corner.

To the frustration and anger of the Southend players, coaching staff and fans, the goal stood but the Blues were back on level terms just five minutes later when Jason Demetriou’s cross was headed past Darlington keeper Tommy Taylor by Cardwell for his second goal in as many games.

With the pitch cutting up badly, the half never really settled into a pattern and turned into a stop-start affair with several fouls and five yellow cards being shown.

With Southend beginning to dominate in the second half, Jack Bridge’s cross hit Alex Purver who was fortunate not to deflect the ball into his own net as the ball bounced off him and struck the post.

Both sides had chances to take the lead near the end, substitute Rhys Murphy hitting the inside of a post after being set up by Bridge and Demetriou’s overhit cross bounced off the crossbar shortly after before Darlington’s Jacob Hazel found himself through one on one on goal – only to be denied by Nna Noukeu.

With the game in the third minute of stoppage time, Noor Husin’s left-wing cross was diverted past Taylor by Cardwell to give Southend the win and put them into Monday’s fifth-round draw.

Blues return to National League action next Saturday, January 21, when they will travel to Boundary Park to play Oldham Athletic (3pm).

Southend United: Nna Noukeu, Bridge (Hobson 90+5’) Ralph, Łopata, Kensdale, Demetriou, Miley, Husin, Taylor, Cardwell (Hyde 90+6’) Powell (Murphy 67’) Subs not used: Purcell, Lomas, Clifford, Fonguck

Darlington: Taylor, Griffiths, Almond (Liddle 58’) Sukar, Hedley, Felix, Purver, Moke (Rose 88’) Lambert, Beck, Hazel Subs not used: Martin, Groom, McMann

Referee: Sam Mulhall

Referees Assistants: David Harrison and Jonathon Block

Fourth Official: Nathan Oakes

Attendance: 2,741 (332 from Darlington)