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Dover Athletic 1-0 Southend United
SOUTHEND UNITED’S embarrassing season reached another low point as a late goal from Leyton Orient loanee, Ruel Sotiriou, sent the Shrimpers spinning out of the Emirates FA Cup at the first hurdle as non-league Dover Athletic recorded a victory which was much more comfortable than the scoreline would suggest.
The tie at Dover’s Crabble Athletic Ground offered a ‘perfect storm’ in terms of the history and pedigree of the competition. Non-league upstarts, under-performing Football League opponents and the customary sloping pitch. And with a worldwide television audience, largely keen to witness ‘the magic of the cup’ – the scene was well and truly set.
Such was Southend’s predicament going into the game, several bookmakers even enlisted Dover – the equivalent of two divisions lower than the Blues – as favourites to progress. However, as events unfolded, the only real shock was that Dover was unable to win the match by a far wider margin.
Jack Munns and Jai Reason tested Nathan Bishop in the Southend goal as the home side started the brighter. And that set the tone for another difficult afternoon for the Blues and their sizable travelling support.
Dover goalkeeper, Yusuf Mersin, spent much of the game simply as a spectator – only briefly warming his palms to make routine saves from Isacc Hutchingson and Ethan Hamilton. Meanwhile, Tom Hopper cleared off the line after Harry Lennon had deflected towards his own goal. It had been a pretty desperate first-half display from Sol Campbell’s charges.
The Blues boss was clearly frustrated and animated, looking on as Southend struggled to match a team currently sitting twelfth in the Vanarama National League. But despite his prompting, Southend offered little or nothing either as an attacking force or for that matter in matching Dover anywhere across the pitch.
Inih Effiong and Reason lashed over as Dover continued to create the better opportunities after the interval. Then, Hamilton intervened to flick clear after a free-kick from former Dagenham & Redbridge man, Scott Doe, had whistled across the face of goal.
But with six minutes remaining, Southend’s hopes of forcing a Roots Hall replay were dashed when substitute, Sotiriou, out-muscled Lennon before unleashing a thumping right-footed angled strike, which fizzed beyond Bishop for what proved to be the games decisive moment.
The impressive Reason clipped the frame of the goal as Dover looked to double their money, which would have been no more than they deserved.
Southend’s support had offered the team encouragement throughout the contest. Nevertheless, this latest setback had tested their patients too much. The team were left with the fans feelings ringing in their ears as they left the pitch. It’s difficult to find any reason to disagree with their angry reaction.
Southend United now turn their attention to the leasing.com Trophy, facing AFC Wimbledon at Roots Hall Stadium on Wednesday, November 13 (7:45pm).
Dover Athletic: Yusuf Mersin, Bobby-Joe Taylor, Scott Doe, Jai Reason, Michael Woods (Capt), Inih Effiong, Jack Munns, Paul Rooney, Oscar Gobern (Nassim L’Ghoul 73′), Steve Rigg (Ruel Sotiriou 81′), Aaron Simpson Subs not used: Lee Worgan (GK), Kurtis Cumberbatch, Joe Bedford, Anthony Jeffrey, Roberto Ratti
Booked: Bobby-Joe Taylor (foul), Paul Rooney (foul)
Goals: Ruel Sotiriou 84′
Southend United: Nathan Bishop, Elvis Bwomono, Nathan Ralph, Timothee Dieng, Tom Hopper, Stephen McLaughlin (Emile Acquah 72′), Brandon Goodship (Simon Cox 72′), Ethan Hamilton, Joe Shaughnessy (Rob Kiernan 60′), Harry Lennon, Issac Hutchinson Subs not used: Mark Oxley (GK), Jason Demetriou, Mark Milligan, Richard Taylor
Booked: Elvis Bwomono (foul), Stephen McLaughlin (foul), Timothee Dieng (foul)
Referee: David Rock
Assistants: Mike Desborough and Leigh Crowhurst
Fourth Official: Dean Whitestone