Fans call for chairman to go as Blues slump

Southend United v Eastleigh – Vanarama National League – Roots Hall Stadium – Report

Southend United 1-3 Eastleigh

Southend United, returning to Vanarama National League action for the first time since beating Solihull Moors 3-0 on January 7, crashed to a lacklustre 3-1 home defeat to Eastleigh in a bruising encounter that saw referee Greg Rollason brandish eight yellow cards.

Kevin Maher named an unchanged side from the team that defeated Darlington in the Isuzu FA Trophy, with fit-again Gus Scott-Morriss returning to the bench.

Former Blues striker Lee Bradbury made two changes to the Eastleigh team with Tristan Abrahams and Nigel Atangana replacing Danny Whitehall and Vincent Harper from their 1-0 FA Trophy win over Braintree Town.

With the game somewhat overshadowed by the pre-match Southend fan protests against chairman Ron Martin and many protesters deliberately not taking their seats until fifteen minutes into the game, Blues dictated the early possession and Harry Cardwell went close to opening the scoring in only the second minute, heading just wide of the post from Jason Demetriou’s cross.

Southend United supporters called for chairman, Ron Martin to sell the club ahead of Saturday’s clash with Eastleigh at Roots Hall Stadium

With almost ten minutes on the clock, the Spitfires’ Alfie Lloyd set off on a run down the left side to play in Jake Hesketh, whose shot forced Stoke City loanee keeper Blondy Nna Noukeu to dive spectacularly to his left to pull off a fine save.

The game then fell into a pattern of much build-up play but very little end product from both teams though just before the half-hour mark, former Eastleigh midfielder Cavagn Miley almost put Southend into the lead when his shot from the edge of the box took a deflection and went narrowly wide of the post with keeper Joe McDonnell beaten.

The visitors took the lead just minutes later when Corey Panter’s free-kick was missed by Nna Noukeu only for the ball to fall to Charlie Carter, whose shot was cleared off the line before deflecting off of QPR loanee Lloyd to register his fifth goal in four matches.

With the second half beginning in a scrappy, stop/start manner punctuated by fouls, Jason Demetriou’s shot from twenty yards went close for Southend ten minutes in and shortly after, Jack Bridge’s solo run down the left side saw him glide past the Spitfires defence and into the middle to shoot from just outside the area – only to see his effort hit the crossbar and bounce to safety. 

Just on the hour mark Bridge again found space on the left, only for his cross to be knocked out of defence by Nigel Atangana to Miley, whose shot was blocked and put out for a corner.

After a claim for a penalty was turned down and following a blocked effort from Lloyd, the Spitfires doubled their lead when Southend failed to clear a long throw and Carter was on hand to fire home into the top right corner from the edge of the six-yard box.

Blues pulled one back just five minutes later when substitute Rhys Murphy cut in from the left-hand side only to see his shot blocked before Harry Cardwell latched onto the rebound to tap the ball into the empty net.

Southend pressed forward looking for an equaliser and it nearly came minutes later when Murphy shot wide from just two yards out

Eastleigh themselves failed to take advantage of a fantastic opportunity when Carter ran through one on one with the keeper, only for Nna Noukeu to narrow the angle and save well with his feet.   

With the visitors continuing to attack, victory was secured in the eighty-sixth minute, when substitute and Watford loanee JJ McKiernan’s stinging effort from the edge of the box somehow went through the hands of Nna Noukeu and into the net to make it 3-1.

Eastleigh saw out the game with relative ease to record only their second away league win of the season to move up into ninth place – level on points with Southend, who remain eighth.

A very poor, flat and most disappointing afternoon for the Blues, who must now turn their attention to next Saturday, February 4 when York City visit Roots Hall in the Vanarama National League (3pm).

Blues fans expressed their discontent during the half-time interval

Southend United: Nna Noukeu, Ralph (capt) Kensdale, Bridge, Husin, Powell (Murphy 67’) Taylor (Hyde 87’) Miley, Lopata, Cardwell, Demetriou (Scott-Morriss 67’) Subs not used: Hobson, Fonguck

Eastleigh: McDonnell, Atangana (McKiernan 63’) Martin (capt) Maghoma, Carter, Cisse, Hesketh (Harper 77’) Abrahams, Panter, Rutherford, Lloyd Subs not used: Flitney, Langston, Stock

Referee: Greg Rollason

Assistants: Andrew Gray and Laurentiu Nantea

Fourth Official: Deryll David

Attendance: 5,735 (69 from Eastleigh)