Cox treble inspires brilliant Blues fightback

Southend United 3-3 Portsmouth

Turning the clock back to February 16, 2019, and a truly memorable Sky Bet League One encounter at Roots Hall Stadium…

SIMON COX his first hat-trick in a Southend United shirt as the Blues staged a remarkable recovery from three-goals behind to ensure a share of the spoils against high-flying Portsmouth on a dramatic afternoon at Roots Hall Stadium.

Despite their indifferent performances, Blues boss, Chris Powell, remained positive and believed his side had an opportunity to show a nation-wide audience what they were truly capable of

“We’re coming up against a side which are much fancied but haven’t got the results they would like recently,” the former England defender explained.

“In front of the Sky cameras anything can happen and we know the atmosphere will be good, that’s for certain, so we need to go out there and do our best to put it in our favour.”

Promotion-chasing Portsmouth also issues with recent form. Indeed, the south-coast outfit had failed to win each of their previous three league outings and had also succumbed to Queen’s Park Rangers, ending their involvement in the Emirates FA Cup to boot.

Following their midweek defeat at Doncaster, there was clearly a subdued atmosphere amidst the home crowd. Stephen McLaughlin tested Pompey goalkeeper, Craig MacGillivray, as the host’s looked to improve the mood – However, it swiftly darkened as Bryn Morris arrived to fired high into the net after Nathan Bishop has struggled to deal with Jamal Lowe’s cross from the right.

And Southend were swiftly in further trouble. Ben Close firing neatly, low beyond Bishop twenty-yards to double Pompey’s advantage.

Southend was already in complete disarray. Omar Bogle found the net, but south-coast celebrations were cut short, perhaps controversially, by an assistants flag. But it was three on the half-hour mark, former Dagenham & Redbridge man, Oli Hawkins. Knocking home from close range after Morris’s initial strike had cannoned back off an upright.

In fairness to Southend, they refused to throw in the towel. Cox reduced the arrears, nodding home after Sam Hart had picked him out from the left as they began to show signs of life. And the Blues were a whisker away from reducing the deficit further when Michael Turner curled wide after finding some room eight yards from goal.

Bishop saved from the marauding Bogle as slick Pompey looked to extend their lead further immediately after the interval. Meanwhile, MacGillivray comfortably dealt with McLaughlin’s low drive and Cox’s speculative attempt was deflected behind as the Blues struggled to secure a foothold in the contest.

And with just under a quarter of an hour remaining, Southend were presented with an opportunity to close the gap. Morris was clumsy on Michael Kightly – handing Cox the chance to dispatch the resulting spot-kick, setting up a grandstand finish.

And incredibly with three minutes remaining, Southend completed a remarkable comeback. Cox claimed the match ball with his third of the afternoon, providing a lethal finish after Timothee Dieng’s delightful reverse pass had fashioned the opening.

Tempers flared in stoppage-time as the drama continued – Southend’s Taylor Moore, along with Pompey’s James Vaughan and Anton Walkes finding their way into referee, Dean Whitestone’s book.

Nevertheless, this could prove to be a vital point as Southend look to put further daylight between themselves and those struggling to avoid the drop. Indeed, the Blues relieved supporters – who finally have something to cheer about – celebrates the results as if it were a victory as they streamed out of the clubs decrepit old ground.

Southend United return to Sky Bet League One action on Saturday, February 23 when they travel to the Wham Stadium to face Accrington Stanley (3pm).

Southend United: Nathan Bishop, Elvis Bwomono, Michael Turner, Taylor Moore, Sam Hart, Michael Kightly (Norman Wabo 82’), Sam Mantom (Capt) (Isaac Hutchins 73’), Timothee Dieng, Stephen McLaughlin, Stephen Humphrys (Michael Klass 25’), Simon Cox Subs not used: Ted Smith (GK), Rob Kiernan, Harry Lennon, Charlie Kelman

Booked: Michael Klass (foul), Taylor Moore (dissent)
Goals: Simon Cox 36’, 78 (penalty), 87’

Portsmouth: Craig MacGillivray, Anton Walkes, Christian Burgess, Matt Clarke (Capt), Lee Brown, Jamal Lowe (James Vaughan 89’), Oli Hawkins, Ben Close, Bryn Morris, Viv Solomon-Otabor (Ronan Curtis 71’), Omar Bogle (Gareth Evans 75’) Subs not used: Alex Bass (GK), Brandon Haunstrup, Matt Casey, Adam May

Booked: Anton Walkes (dissent), James Vaughan (dissent)
Goals: Bryn Morris 8’, Ben Close 20’, Oli Hawkins 30’

Referee: Dean Whitestone
Assistants: Andrew Williams and Grant Taylor
Fourth Official: Neil Hair

Attendance: 7,300 (1,239 from Portsmouth)

Reaction to follow….

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]