Southend United registered their first home win of the season with an impressive and well-deserved 3-1 victory over Millwall in Sky Bet League One.
Goals from David Mooney, Stephen McLaughlin and Luke O’Neill saw the Blues home and dry and back amongst the points.
O’Brien had levelled for the Lions after Mooney’s opener but it was Southend’s day in front of a jubilant Roots Hall crowd.
Phil Brown made five changes for this one in a 3-4-3 formation among windy conditions at Roots Hall.
The game reared its first opportunity within the first two minutes as Romeo cut inside and look to curl one in the bottom left corner – Oxley, in for Smith, got down well to save.
The deadlock was broken on six minutes, and it was the Blues who got it! Mooney received the ball from McGlashan in the box, swivelled, turned and lashed one past Archer in the Lions net on 6 minutes.
With the home crowd buoyant after the early opener, Blues began to assert their authority on the game; controlling the possession inside the opening twenty minutes and nullifying the opposition.
Martin received the first booking of the game on 23’ for a high challenge on Jermaine McGlashan; Coker whipped the free kick in from the right, but Millwall stood firm and managed to clear.
A couple of minutes later Barrett was on hand to make a superb block to deny Butcher after Atkinson’s timely challenge on O’Brien fell to him in the area.
Southend couldn’t keep out Millwall’s next chance as Southend failed to clear a long ball into the box and O’Brien prodded home on 33 minutes.
The Lions would find themselves very fortunate to still have 11 men on the pitch soon after the restart, as Martin, already carded, hauled down Mooney as he turned him just past the half way line – Free kick but no second booking from referee Graham Salisbury.
Sensing that the full-back was on the thinnest of thin ice, Harris shuffled the pack and replaced Martin with Gregory as Ferguson went to left-back.
Southend went close to retaking the lead shortly before the break as Coker slid in Demetriou on the right. The Cypriot stood one up to the back post to McGlashan who hit a volley with the inside of his right foot which Archer got up well to stop.
The game had a real cup tie feel with both sets of supporters willing their teams on with it all to play for in the second half.
Half Time: Southend United 1-1 Millwall
Back to the action and soon enough Southend were back in the ascendency after a strong start to the half.
The Blues regained the lead inside the opening five minutes of the second period as the ball fell to McLaughlin just outside the box. The winger chested it and hit a sweet right-footed strike on the half volley which sailed into the top-left corner!
Leonard’s long throws continued to cause panic and confusion in the Lions defence. The latest one pumped in on the hour mark, fell to Demetriou who volleyed over inside the box after gaining a sight of goal.
With Millwall gradually imposing themselves back on the game, White had to be on hand to stop Morison’s pass playing through Gregory on goal on 65’ with a timely and well executed interception.
Goalscorer McLaughlin, after taking a heavy knock was replaced by Luke O’Neill with 18 minutes to play – McGlashan moving to the left with O’Neill operating on the right.
Millwall started to pile on the pressure inside the last 15 minutes – Lions skipper Craig heading over Worrall’s cross on 77’.
The long balls began to launch their way inside the Blues half with less than 10 minutes’ left. McGlashan, who had looked a threat all day for Blues, was replaced by Kyprianou as Brown looked to shut up shop.
A couple of late bookings for Millwall for Thompson and Webster as Southend looked to counter.
No one could stop O’Neill from sealing it 3-1 on 87 minutes though, as he scrambled it home inside the box to send the Roots Hall faithful into a state of ecstasy and seal the Blues’ first home win of the season!
SOUTHEND XI | Oxley, White, Barrett (c), Thompson, Coker, Demetriou, Atkinson, Leonard, McGlashan, McLaughlin, Mooney.
SUBS | Smith, O'Neill, Cox, King, Bridge, Kyprianou, Inniss
MILLWALL XI | Archer, Martin, Craig, Williams, Worrall, Romeo, Butcher, Webster, Ferguson, Morison, O'Brien.
SUBS | King, Thompson, Gregory, Onyedinma, Wylde, Nelson, Abdou.