Southend United saw off Stockport County 3-0 in the first round of the FA Cup at Roots Hall this afternoon.
Goals from Barry Corr, Marc Laird and substitute Freddy Eastwood saw Blues come out on top.
But, despite the final score-line, Paul Sturrock’s side had to battle hard for the win.
However, Southend were on top early on and, with three minutes on the clock, Michael Timlin fired a 25 yard shot straight at Stockport goalkeeper Ian Ormson and, moments later, Timlin was at it again as his deflected low volley from a similar distance was well saved by Ormson.
Following Timlin’s two efforts at goal the game became quite scrappy before Blues were forced in to making an enforced substitution in the 26th minute, with Luke Prosser replacing Ryan Cresswell at the heart of the defence.
Cresswell seemed to be struggling with blurred vision as he left the pitch but, five minutes after the change, Southend almost opened the scoring when Kevan Hurst’s deep right wing cross was headed down by Gavin Tomlin and Corr volleyed over the crossbar from six yards.
But Corr was not to be denied and, in the 33rd minute he put Blues in front with a neat six yard header.
The Irishman was impressively picked out by Chris Barker who headed a fine diagonal pass from Timlin in to the striker’s path and he made no mistake with an assured finish for his second goal of the season.
The effort angered the visitors who disagreed with a throw in decision in the build up to the goal but the Hatters could have drawn back level on the stroke of half-time when Craig Hobson dragged a left footed shot wide of the right post from 10 yards.
Stockport pushed forward again at the start of the second half with James Tunnicliffe firing over the crossbar from 20 yards before Blues hit back with Tomlin firing a tamely struck shot straight at Ormson from the edge of the penalty area.
However, Stockport soon hit back with substitute Danny Rowe firing just past the left post and, in a bid to improve his team’s display, Southend boss Paul Sturrock made a double substitution in the 77th minute with Freddy Eastwood and Ryan Leonard both entering the action.
Corr and Hurst made way for the duo and Blues soon made sure of their victory in the 86th minute when Timlin cut the ball back from the left hand side of the penalty area, to tee up Laird who netted with a first time finish from six yards.
Southend then sealed two minutes from time when Eastwood created space for himself with a some neat touches before firing a powerful 18 yard shot in to the roof of the net as Blues worked their way in to the second round of the competition.