Second-half goals from Jack Payne and Seedy Njie ensured that Southend United kept up the pressure on Youth Alliance leaders Watford with a 2-1 home win over Crawley Town.
Blues trailed at the interval to Charlie Pitcher’s breakaway goal but a second half fightback stretched the Blues unbeaten League run to six matches.
Crawley though drew first blood when they took the lead in the 16th minute off the back of a Southend attack. Midfielder Pitcher was allowed to finish from 14-yards off the inside of the left-hand upright.
Mitchell Pinnock then nodded over in the 32nd minute after a move that had seen Njie over-run the ball when bursting into the box and Marlon Agyakwa over-hit Payne’s lay-off.
Two minutes later, Agyakwa brought a fine save from Jack Eden at his near post, jinking his way past William Kouadio from Pinnock’s pass and hitting a stinging shot that was beaten away by the custodian.
Agyakwa then curled wide from the edge of the penalty area following a neat one-two with Payne from a corner before Pinnock’s pinpoint delivery almost crafted a goal on two separate occasions with headers from Payne and Njie going close.
Southend finally levelled in the 70th minute with a goal out of nothing when Jack Payne received the ball 25 yards from goal and beat Eden with a skidding shot into the bottom left-hand corner.
Agyakwa’s rasping effort then whistled past the left-hand post five minutes later. Within seconds, birthday boy Kane Farrell hoisted a cross into the box that Akrofi nodded goalwards, with Eden making a stunning fingertip save. The custodian then repeated the feat with four minutes left, turning substitute Jason Williams’ shot over.
And when forward Njie missed a back-heeled flick from Akrofi’s shot following another Pinnock corner, it seemed as though Southend might have to settle for a point.
However, a mazy run from Pinnock saw the winger hang up a cross that allowed Njie to convert with the back of his head at the far post and claim a last gasp win.
Southend United: Smith, Jeffrey, Farrell, Barlow (King 65), Banton, Tatham, Agyakwa (Williams 81), Bridge (Akrofi 56), Njie, Payne, Pinnock.