Southend United secured their place in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Section semi finals with a 2-1 victory against Brentford at Roots Hall this evening.
Tamika Mkandawire opened his Blues account before an excellent goal from Kevan Hurst gave Southend a two goal advantage at the break.
A late strike from Paul Hayes set up a nervy finale but the home side held on for victory, booking their place in the next round.
The Bees pressured the home side in the opening moments with Sam Saunders trying his luck from 25 yards out, with the ball flying inches wide of the goal.
Blues hit back in the 17th minute with a bullet of a header from Barry Corr flashing wide of the target from Hurst’s superb whipped cross.
Southend took the lead in the 27th minute through Mkandawire’s first goal for the club from the edge of the area.
The midfielder controlled the ball well before firing a left footed effort at goal which took a deflection giving Simon Moore no hope in the Brentford goal.
Hayes missed a golden chance to draw level for the away side after Paul Smith parried Harry Forrester’s strike right into his path only to miss the target from eight yards.
Substitute Antonio German was next to test Smith with a stinging effort from the edge of the area which the keeper smartly claimed.
On the next attack Southend extended their lead in the 39th minute with a sublime finish from Hurst, rifling the ball past the helpless Moore.
The midfielder picked the ball up from distance before angling a superb 25 yard right footed strike into the top corner of the goal.
Blues went into half time with a two goal lead which Brentford should’ve halved in the 55th minute through German’s sliced effort.
Saunders cross caused problems for Smith in goal for Southend who palmed the ball right into the German’s path before the striker saw his header blocked by Luke Prosser on the line before snatching at the second attempt wide of goal.
Two quality chances fell to both teams within the space of a minute just after the hour mark with Corr and German both failing to find the net.
Corr had a 12 yard effort clatter the underside of the bar with only defenders on the line after tenacious play from Britt Assombalonga saw the forward take the ball round the keeper before teeing up his strike partner with a clever pass.
The Bees responded immediately with former Southend loanee German fired horribly wide with the just the keeper to beat.
The away side nearly found the net once again with Smith beating away a swerving effort from Saunders before clever near post cross from Harlee Dean found Hayes before being denied by a sharp one handed save from the Blues keeper.
Brentford pulled a goal back in the 84th minute through Hayes’ smart finish from Dean’s long through ball.
The striker caught a yard on the Blues defence before firing the ball past Smith in goal as the Bees made it a nervous final five minutes.
Hayes nearly got his second of the game in the 88th minute flicking on Hodson’s dangerous right wing cross which Smith claimed well.
Smith once again pulled off an excellent save in the dying moments, tipping Saunders’ curling free-kick over the bar.
The victory ensured Southend were in the pot for the Southern Section semi finals for the second year running.