Reeco the hero for ten-man Blues

Brian Jeeves
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Southend United 1-0 Barrow

Reeco Hackett-Fairchild marked his Southend United debut with the only goal of the game as ten-man Blues saw off fellow strugglers Barrow in what was a tense Sky Bet League Two affair at Roots Hall Stadium.

Blues chief, Mark Molesley made two changes to the side beaten at Leyton Orient last time out, with Greg Halford and Hackett-Fairchild – the latter arriving on loan from Portsmouth – replacing Terrell Egbri and Ashley Nathaniel-George

It was a cracking start for the home side, spearheaded by debutant, Hackett-Fairchild – who had impressed during a similar recent spell with Bromley.

The 22-year-old winger skipped onto his left foot before dispatching a crisp, curling effort beyond the outstretched glove of Barrow stopper, Joel Dixon.

Despite trailing, Barrow were producing the more fluent football in what was otherwise a scrappy contest. Mark Oxley was forced into a superb one-handed save to deny Luke James an equaliser for the Cumbrians, while referee Chris Pollard rebuffed the visitors call for a spot-kick after a raucous hand-ball appeal against John White.

Dixon raced from his line to deny Elvis Bwomono, after Timothee Dieng had fashioned an opening. Meanwhile, James fired directly at Oxley as the sides exchanged opportunities toward the conclusion of the opening period.

Hackett-Fairchild fizzed over as he and the Blues searched for a second immediately after the restart. But Southend were dealt a blow when Halford was clumsy on Scott Quigley – whistler Pollard brandishing a second yellow card to the former Colchester and Cardiff City man.

James Olayinka had been strangely subdued – the Arsenal loanee passed up a glorious opportunity to double Southend’s advantage after appearing to lose his footing when one-on-one with Dixon.

Dior Angus nodded over as Barrow went a little more direct in their approach. However, the ten-men closed the space and defended their lead resolutely, ensuring the Bluebirds very little joy in the final third.

Substitute Alan McCormack passed up a glorious opportunity to seal the deal – poking over from close-range after Ashley Nathaniel-Gerorge’s probing run and shot had landed at the Irishman’s feet.

Blues negotiated a considerable chunk of stoppage-time – the victory moved them within a point of Grimsby, Stevenage and Barrow, all occupying the places immediately above them at the foot of the table.

Southend United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, January 16 when they take on Grimsby Town at Blundell Park (3pm).

Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, James Olayinka (Richard Taylor 81’), Timothe Dieng, Simeon Akinola (Ashley Nathaniel-George 81’), Reece Hackett-Fairchild (Alan McCormack 61’), Greg Halford, Jason Demetriou, Sam Hart, John White (Capt) Subs not used: Harry Seaden (GK), Rob Howard, Emile Acquah, Louis Walsh

Booked: Greg Halford (foul), Mark Oxley (time-wasting)
Sent-Off: Greg Halford (foul – second yellow card)
Goals: Reeco Hackett-Fairchild 3’

Barrow: Joel Dixon, Connor Brown (Dior Angus 72’), Patrick Brough, Matty Platt, Sam Hird (Capt) (James Jones 61’), Scott Quigley, Lewis Hardcastle, Josh Kay, Tom Beading, Chris Taylor, Luke James Subs not used: Josh Lillis (GK), Jason Taylor, Yoan Zouma, Scott Wilson

Booked: Sam Hird (foul), Josh Kay (foul)
Goals: None

Referee: C Pollard
Assistants: M Desborough and N Cooper
Fourth Officials: S Finch

Brian Jeeves