Southend United suffered a 1-0 loss to Accrington Stanley at Roots Hall this afternoon in the opening match of the Npower League Two season.
After a goalless first half, Karl Sheppard’s looping header on the hour mark was enough to give Accrington all three points in this tight affair giving Paul Cook his first away win in charge of the away side.
Stanley had the first chance of the match in the opening minute with Luke Clark flashing an effort wide of the goal from 20 yards after finding some space.
Blues hit back immediately and Ryan Hall nearly got Southend’s first goal of the campaign after Sean Clohessy’s deep cross found the winger who saw his left footed drive smartly saved by Ian Dunbavin in goal for the away side.
Southend continued to press with an excellent cross from Michael Timlin finding the head of Kane Ferdinand who glanced his header wide of the left hand post.
Blues came even closer in the 35th minute with a trademark set piece from Hall which Dunbavin was equal to, tipping the ball over the bar to safety.
The Roots Hall crowd thought the home side had taken the lead in the 42nd minute after ball ended up in the back of the net but it was via Luke Prosser’s hand who was then correctly booked by the referee.
On the stroke of half time debutant striker Britt Assombalonga nearly broke the deadlock after Gavin Tomlin’s cross came off his knee only to loop the keeper and land on the roof of the net.
Blues started the second half the brightest and nearly opened the scoring twice in a matter of minutes through Clohessy and then Timlin.
Clohessy saw his right wing cross tipped over from Dunbavin as it looked to be sneaking in and from the resulting corner Timlin’s powerful drive was somehow parried past the post after the ball came through a flood of players giving the keeper little time to react.
Stanley fought their way back into the game after being on the back foot for most of the second half and took the lead on the hour mark through a leaping header from Sheppard.
Charlie Barnett’s cross caused confusion in the Blues’ penalty box and with Southend failing to clear the ball Sheppard looped his header towards goal which looked a routine save for Cameron Belford who palmed the ball into the back of the net.
Mark Phillips was next in on the action seeing his powerful header superbly saved by Dunbavin who was getting busier as the clocked ticked down.
Moments later Tomlin had a close range effort cleared off the line by Lindfield as Blues piled on the pressure in the closing stages of the match.
It was Tomlin again who had a glorious chance for the home side dragging his effort wide of the goal from 18 yards out as the game went into added time.
Stanley withheld the onslaught from Southend to take all three points in this opening match giving Paul Cook his first away win since taking charge at the club.
Southend: Belford, Clohessy, Hall, Timlin, Ferdinand (Spicer 73), Phillips, Prosser, Leonard (Harris 77), Assombalonga (Cresswell 73), Tomlin, Barker.
Subs not used: Straker, Hurst, Bentley, Benyon.