Olayinka’s late strike earns Blues a rare success

Southend United 1-0 Scunthorpe United

Southend’s long-suffering faithful got an early Christmas present after not only being allowed back into Roots Hall but to see Arsenal loanee, James Olayinka, hit a cracking second-half winner, on Saturday.

The fans’ early encouragement nearly led to an Elvis Bwomono thirteenth minute opener, with a fine angled cross, which visiting keeper, Mark Howard did well to grab.

The wily Olayinka was finding freedom behind the front two of Emile Acquah and Simon Akinola, and his deft touch freed the evergreen, Alan McCormack who let fly, five minutes from the interval, only to see his blistering drive sear inches wide.

On the stroke of half-time, a promising Southend move saw Akinola get in Acquah’s way and Scunthorpe broke, but John McAtee’s 25-yarder beat Mark Oxley, only to rebound back off his far post.

The second period was initially a very muted affair, with Scunthorpe’s Jacob Bedeau heading wide from a Mason O’Malley corner – as Southend confidently soaked up routine pressure.

Having run his opposite number ragged, all afternoon, Sam Hart – free to play after the club’s transfer embargo was lifted – was replaced by the industrious Terrell Egbri on 78 minutes, as boss, Mark Moseley made a tactical switch.

The move brought instant dividends when Egbri freed up skipper, Jason Demetriou to find the livewire Olayinka, who cooly picked his spot and beat Howard with a fine right-footed curler – sending the home faithful – understandably – wild.

Scunthorpe hit back, but sub., Aaron Jarvis failed to hit the target from six yards, before Bedeau again wasted another chance, on 89 minutes, heading over an empty net, as Mark Oxley missed his punch from Mo Eisa’s cross.

Southend then survived five nervy stoppage-time minutes, to leave the ever-grounded Mark Moseley admitting: “It was a battling performance, but we’re obviously disappointed where we are in the table. But, the fans were like the ‘twelfth man’ this afternoon.”

He claimed: “It feels like the season has finally begun for us. Scunthorpe are one of the best sides we’ve faced here and we really had to grind out this result. It’s now important we build on this. Three points and a clean sheet in front of our own fans is what we signed up for,”

Moseley praised chairman, Ron Martin: “Mr Martin has cleared a lot of debt – which means the transfer embargo has now been lifted.”

Moseley also praised the matchwinner: “It was a great finish from James Olayinka. He’d had a great solo effort not long before his goal. He’s shown his capabilities and wants to score goals.”

He concluded: “The place had the buzz around it today. The fans gave us that and – at the same time – it hasn’t been our most vintage performance, but, off the ball, we’re getting resolute and hard to beat. We’re vastly improved, but we still have a long, long way to go.”

Goalscorer, Olayinka added: ”The fans made such a difference today. You just notice it in the atmosphere. We now hope this win can be a turning point and we can keep it going against Grimsby on Tuesday.”

Opposing boss, Neil Cox, added: “Every defeat is a missed opportunity. We lost that spark after the break and we looked tired. And, we gave away a poor goal.”

Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, Timothee Dieng, Sam Hart (Terrell Egbri 78′) Tom Clifford, Jason Demetriou (Capt), Alan McCormack, James Olayinka (Brandon Goodship 87′), Simeon Akinola (Kyle Taylor 61′), Emile Acquah (Richard Taylor 87′) Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Michael Klass, Harry Kyprianou.

Scunthorpe United: Mark Howard, Jai Rowe, Emmanuel Onarise, Jacob Bedeau, Mason O’Malley, Alex Gillead (Capt) (Devarn Green 57′), Lewis Spence (Jordan Hallam 85′), Alfie Beestin, Abo Eisa, Ryan Loft (Aaron Jarvis 78′), John McAtee (Jake Taylor 78′) Subs not used: Rory Watson, Myles Hypolyte, Tyler Cordner.

Referee: S.Martin
Assistants: N.Lugg and C.Fitch-Jackson
Fourth Official: S.Lewis.

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Rowland Lyons

Email: [email protected]