SOUTHEND might be more whelks and Watneys than champagne and caviar, but this win will still have tasted good to Town's travelling fans.

The 477 behind Darryl Flahavan's goal at Roots Hall partied as the home goalkeeper beat the turf in frustration following the concession of an 89th-minute winner to Danny Schofield.

The 23-year-old held his nerve to complete a ruthless counter attack by floating home his first goal of the season.

It clinched Town's fourth successive win, their first away from home in the League this term, and put them ninth in the Third Division, a point off the play-off zone.

Southend, now without a win in seven, slipped into the dreaded bottom two, and it was easy to understand manager Steve Wignall's dejection after the match.

"It's the worst I've felt all season," admitted the former Doncaster player.

"It's very difficult to criticise the players when they have given everything.

"It's probably a cruel thing to say, but we gave Huddersfield the game, and we thoroughly deserved something out of it."

There was some substance to Wignall's argument, because Southend shaded the match in terms of possession and had eight shots on target to Town's five.

But credit Peter Jackson's side, firstly because they responded swiftly when Leke Odunsi shot Southend ahead in the 43rd minute - Andy Booth levelling within two minutes - secondly because they soaked up some pressure, and thirdly, because they made the most of their late chance.

Jackson had to make at least one change to the team which beat Kidderminster as Town chased a sixth win in eight visits to the trim Essex venue, but in the end, elected to make two.

Efe Sodje, as expected, came in for Paul Scott, who was starting a three-match suspension, while Jackson also handed a first start since February to another centre- back Nathan Clarke, whose selection meant David Mirfin switched to right wing-back at the expense of Andy Holdsworth in another 3-5-2 formation.

While Sodje started on the right, Clarke in the middle and Steve Yates on the left, Jackson had to make a series of changes during the game as Town tried to contain the crafty guile of Mark Warren and raw power of fellow midfielder Odunsi.

Given a little too much space early on Odunsi, snapped up from Millwall on a free transfer in the summer, provided a string of through balls to Gower.

The former Tottenham man, bought for £25,000 from Barnet in the close-season, shot just over from the edge of the area in the fourth minute, then pumped in the corner from which left-back Jamie Stuart had a header cleared off the line by Lee Fowler, who had an excellent game in central midfield for Town.

Town's first attack of the game, from a corner won by Schofield in the 12th minute, came to nothing, but 60 seconds later, there was relief for home fans when Jon Stead came close to a 10th goal of the season.

The 20-year-old striker picked up a pass from left wing-back Tony Carss, held off the attempted challenge of left-back Duncan Jupp and curled a right-foot shot just wide from 25 yards out.

Southend's response came from the tricky Gower, who cut in from the left flank and tested Town goalkeeper Gray with a well-struck low drive.

Odunsi hooked a shot over in the 23rd minute, then, as Southend maintained their pressure, midfielder Kevin Maher beat the Town defence with a dink with the outside of his right boot only for striker Drewe Broughton to be ruled offside.

Gloucestershire referee Lee Probert took the same view when Sodje netted with a diving header from Schofield's cross in the 31st minute before Gray came to Town's rescue in the 36th, blocking with his legs as Gower played a neat one-two with Broughton and rasped in another low, stinging effort.

The end-to-end action continued as Carss came close in the 39th minute.

There seemed little on when he took possession from Sodje, but clever shielding of the ball and neat footwork foxed Jupp and Odensi and a left-foot curler went just over with Flahavan stranded.

A minute later Odunsi cleared off the line when Booth met a Carss corner with a strong header, then an action-packed end to the first half continued when Southend took the lead.

Having saved his side moments earlier, Odunsi was the hero again as he shot home from the edge of the area after Gower had nodded down Stuart's cross from the left.

The home supporters were still celebrating Odunsi's first goal for the club when they were silenced by Booth, who climbed high to meet Clarke's long throw and squeeze a fine header over Flahavan and into the roof of the net.

It was the perfect response, and while Southend still managed to push forward in the second half, they were less menacing.

Substitute Tes Bramble, brother of Newcastle star Titus, did cause some problems, and after skipping past Clarke in the 66th minute, Gray did well to come out of his area and force the robust frontman out wide, from where he still managed to conjure a shot which went over.

Having picked up a 64th minute booking which will mean a one-match suspension, Stead suffered further frustration when Flahavan stretched to palm away his superb shot in the turn from Sodje's upfield punt in the 77th minute.

At the other end, Gray saved from both Gower and midfielder Leon Constantine before substitute Jay Smith's slip-up proved so costly for the home side.

Attempting a shot after Gower's corner was only partially cleared, Smith trod on the ball and as it squirted away from under his studs, Stead zipped forward, picking out Schofield with a well-placed pass.

The chasing Maher did his best to bump Schofield out of contention, but the Town man stood up to the challenge, got goal side, and lofted the ball home.

Desperate Southend still had time to force two corners, but Gray closed a top performance by saving from Bramble's flicked header.

TOWN FORM (3-5-2)

Ian Gray Not much he could do about Odunsi's opener, and made a string of crucial saves to keep Town right in it. Rating: 8/10

David Mirfin Switched from centre to an unfamiliar right wing-back role. This will have been a great learning experience. Rating: 6/10

Tony Carss Got through plenty of work both in defence and attack, and could well have scored in the 37th minute. Rating: 7/10

Steve Yates Solid effort, although he struggled to deal with pace and trickery of Mark Gower, leading to a backline reshuffle. Rating: 6/10

Efe Sodje Looked cool and composed, and his physical presence helped contain a robust Southend side. Rating: 7/10

Nathan Clarke Great to see him back in the starting line-up. Looked strong and caused problems with his long throws. Rating: 7/10

Lee Fowler A busy performance with plenty of bite in central midfield from the hard-working on-loan Coventry man. Rating: 8/10

Jon Worthington Tackled as tigrishly as ever in a tough physical contest but had to be careful after picking up an early booking. Rating: 6/10

Danny Schofield Took a while to get into the game, but made some telling contributions, none more so than his goal. Rating: 7/10

Andy Booth The skipper showed his experience with a cracking header which knocked the stuffing out of Southend. Rating: 6/10

Jon Stead Frustrated by a fifth booking and his inability to score, but played a key role in Danny Schofield's winner. Rating: 7/10


(4-3-3) Flahavan, Jupp, Stuart, Cort, Warren, Fullarton, Gower, Maher, Broughton, Odunsi, Constantine.

Subs: McSweeney, Bramble, Robinson, Jenkins, Smith.



Town were anticipating a tough, physical showdown at Roots Hall and the on-loan Coventry man was more than ready for the challenge. Got in a vital goalline clearance early on and made some vital challenges in the crucial midfield arena.


The moment in the 89th minute when the unfortunate Jay Smith trod on the ball rather than making a clean connection. It turned defence into a very telling attack for Town as Jon Stead gained possession.


Subs used: Southend: Smith for Odunsi, 71mins, Bramble for Broughton 53. Town: Mattis for Fowler, 86, Lloyd for Carss, 90.

Subs not used: Southend: McSweeney, Robinson, Jenkins. Town: Newby, Senior, Holdsworth.

Scorers: Southend: Odunsi 43mins. Town: Booth: 45mins, Schofield 89mins.

Referee: Lee Probert (Gloucestershire)

Bookings: Town: Sodje, Fowler, Worthington, Stead.

Shots on target: Southend 8, Town 5.

Corners: Southend 9, Town 3.

Caught offside: Southend 2, Town 5.

Free-kicks awarded : Southend 15, Town 9.

Attendance: 4,205 (477 travelling).

Next story