Southend United 2-0 Colchester United
Battling Southend United moved off the bottom of Sky Bet League Two after producing a busy, workmanlike performance to secure a well-deserved derby success over erratic neighbours, Colchester United, at Roots Hall Stadium.
Strangely, Southend went into the match as the inform side. A run of four matches without defeat had closed the gap, although Blues remained at the foot of the table.
Injuries forced Mark Molesley into several changes with Tom Clifford, James Olayinka and Alan McCormack missing out – John White, handed a start against his former employers.
Molesley spoke about the unpredictability of the derby: “Sometimes these games have a different feel to them and form, the league table go out the window – It’s whoever holds their nerve and performs their best on the day,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Colchester boss, Steve Ball made three changes to his starting line-up. A frustrating defeat at the hands of Morecambe a week previous highlighting the U’s inconsistencies as their play-off ambitions remained more a possibility than a probability.
Indeed, it was a nervous start from Colchester, and Southend was quick to pounce. Simeon Akinola arrived unmarked to meet Sam Hart’s pin-point delivery. Blues ahead – the contest going to recent form.
Ashley Nathaniel-George passed up a reasonable opportunity to double the Blues lead. But it was 2-0 just after the twenty-minute mark. Kyle Taylor bursting clear before playing in Timothee Dieng. The former Bradford City man beating U’s stopper Dean Gerken with a controlled finish from twelve yards.
This was now a test of character for Colchester – a task they already looked some way from passing. Jevani Brown fired wide as the North Essex outfit looked to steady an already worryingly subsiding ship.
But it was the home side who continued to boss proceedings. Akinola’s attempt was deflected behind, while Shaun Hobson headed wide and Gerken denied Nathanial-George as the resurgent Blues looked to kill off their traditional rivals. Nevertheless, they survived a nervy moment when Kwame Poku cut in from the right before sending a crisp, angled effort against the inside of an upright.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Colchester returned with a flea in their ear and initially probed with a little more purpose. Mark Oxley saved Michael Folivi’s speculative attempt, while Jevani Brown nodded over, but against a Southend side prepared to put their bodies on the line and get a foot in, they made little headway.
Oxley did well to turn over Tommy Smith’s looping header, while Oxley palmed away a late Brown effort. But Southend – far from industrious as an attacking force since the restart – utilised a recently-discovered willingness to dig deep with impressive vigour.
The result saw Southend leapfrog Stevenage ahead of the afternoon fixtures. Certainly, the picture appears a whole lot brighter. Blues return to Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday, December 28 when they face Leyton Orient at the Breyer Group Stadium (7pm).
Colchester United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday, December 28 when they take on Cheltenham Town at the JobServe Community Stadium (7:45pm).
Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, Timothee Dieng, Simeon Akinola (Emile Acquah 73’), Terrell Egbri, Ashley Nathaniel-George (Rob Howard 89’), Jason Demetriou, Kyle Taylor (Greg Halford 80’), Sam Hart, John White (Capt) Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Harry Phillips, Kazaiah Sterling, Louis Walsh
Booked: Sam Hart (foul), Shaun Hobson (dissent)
Goals: Simeon Akinola 10’, Timothee Dieng 21’
Colchester United: Dean Gerken (GK), Tommy Smith (Capt), Omar Sowunmi, Courtney Senior, Jevani Brown, Noah Chilvers, Tom Eastman, Ryan Clampin, Kwame Poku (Luke Gambin 60’), Ben Stevenson (Tom Lapslie 63’), Michael Folivi (Josh Bohui 80’) Subs not used: Shamal George (GK), Miles Welch-Hayes, Samson Tovide, Harvey Sayer
Booked: Tom Eastman (foul), Courtney Senior (foul), Noah Chilvers (foul), Tom Lamplie (Dissent)
Referee: Neil Hair
Assistants: Marc Wilson and Darren Blunden
Fourth Official: Anthony Da Costa