Mixed emotions for Waddock after battling Blues are pegged back

Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Southend United – Reaction

IT WAS A CASE of mixed reactions for Southend United’s caretaker-manager, Gary Waddock after his side produced a workmanlike Sky Bet League One performance against in-form Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park

Waddock had called for a response from his players following last weeks 4-1 hammering off AFC Wimbledon and his wish was largely granted as Southend scrapped gamely to defend a ninth-minute lead, handed to them when Tom Hopper – making his first start in almost a year following a horrendous knee injury – profited from Simon Cox’s toil, neatly beating Rovers stopper, Scott Davies, much to the delight of the 290 Blues fans who had battled the inclement weather conditions and heavy traffic to reach Birkenhead.

Southend had several opportunities to double their advantage – notably when Timothee Dieng nodded wide after Stephen McLaughlin had picked him out midway through the opening period.

Blues seemed to have done enough. However, a late twist in the tail saw referee, David Webb, point to the penalty spot after Nathan Ralph appeared to pull down substitute Paul Mullin – the Rovers man dusting himself off before converting past Nathan Bishop.

Tranmere, sensing an opportunity to snatch all three points, forced Southend to defend stoutly in the closing moments. A share of the spoils was the very least the south-east Essex side deserved, although Waddock and the travelling support will be agreed that they couldn’t claim the win.

“It should have been more,” the former Queen’s Park Rangers midfielder explained to www.southendunited.co.uk.

“We played extremely well and had a number of chances to kill the game off, and I thought it was a really good away performance.

“We had good chances. Timothee Dieng had a glorious chance as well and I think that was floating around in his head for about 10 minutes during the course of the game, but the lads gave everything tonight.
“I thought it was a great away performance and I thought our supporters were magnificent travelling the distance that they’ve travelled tonight and they were very vocal. This place is vocal anyway but they gave a good account of themselves.”

Speaking about the return of Hopper following what was a career-threatening lay-off, Waddock added: “I’m absolutely thrilled for Hopps to mark his return like that with a goal of that quality.

“It was a good move and the finish was of real quality, so I was really pleased for him but I’m also pleased for the whole group of players. They showed what they were about tonight.”

Southend United now face back-to-back Sky Bet League One home matches. Doncaster Rovers are the visitors to Roots Hall Stadium on Tuesday, October 22 (7:45pm). Ten on Saturday 26 leaders Ipswich Town visit for an eagerly anticipated clash (3pm).

Tranmere Rovers: Davies (Capt), Ridehalgh, Ray, Monthe, Morris, Caprice, Perkins, Hepburn-Murphy (Jennings 65’), Blackett-Taylor (Mullin 71’), Danns, Payne. Subs not used: Pilling, Nelson, Ponticelli, Wilson, Borthwick-Jackson

Southend United: Bishop, Bwomono, Ralph (Demetriou 90+3’), Milligan (Capt), Dieng, Hopper (Humphrys 62’), Cox, McLaughlin, Hamilton, Shaughnessy, Hutchinson (Acquah 90’). Subs not used: Goodship, Kiernan, Lennon

Referee: David Webb
Assistants: Robert Merchant & Mark Jones
Fourth Official: Lewis Smith

Attendance: 7,066 (290 from Southend)

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk