Blues gain first-leg advantage in JPT
Blues will take a slender one goal lead back to Roots Hall in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Area Final after beating Leyton Orient 1-0 away from home in the first leg.
Ryan Leonard’s second half deflected effort from Sean Clohessy’s cross just before the hour mark gave Blues the advantage in this close encounter.
The opening stages of the match were tightly contested with neither side able to create any clear cut chances.
Orient had the first strike on target through a Martin Rowlands free kick from distance which was comfortably saved by Paul Smith in the Southend goal.
The home side came even closer in the 22nd minute after Lee Cook’s excellent cross found David Mooney unmarked six yards out only to see his effort superbly saved by the hand of Smith as the keeper got down low to his left.
Blues came back into the game and nearly took the lead through Britt Assombalonga after piling on the pressure with half time approaching.
The striker turned Mathieu Baudry on the wing before firing a left footed strike at goal from an acute angle which Jamie Jones was equal to for the O’s.
The home side replied instantly with Shaun Batt taking advantage of a defensive mix up before seeing his effort saved smartly by Smith from 12 yards out.
The striker had another chance at goal after Mooney teed the Millwall loanee up inside the box with Smith getting the better of him once again parrying the ball away to safety.
Orient started the second half strongly pressing Southend into their own half but it was the away side who had a great opportunity to take the lead after Assombalonga’s low pass across the box found Kevan Hurst who saw his effort superbly blocked by Gary Sawyer.
With 58 minutes on the clock Blues took the lead through Leonard’s second goal in as many matches after his effort took a slight deflection off Baudry.
Clohessy attacked down the right before playing a cross into the near post which was met superbly by the young midfielder seeing the ball find the back of the net from close range much to the travelling support’s delight.
Just after the hour mark Blues nearly doubled their lead through Hurst’s long range effort at goal which nicked off the outside of the post after clever play by Alex Woodyard in the centre of midfield gave the winger sight of goal.
Mooney had a glorious chance for the O’s in the 80th minute after he beat the offside trap and with just Smith to beat his attempted lob was too heavy missing the target by quite a distance.
Michael Timlin was stretchered off for Southend in the 87th minute after a strong challenge with Jimmy Smith left the Blues midfielder reeling in agony with John Spicer his replacement.
Ryan Cresswell’s last ditch block in the 89th minute from Orient substitute Afolabi Obafemi kept Southend’s advantage with the home side pressing for an equaliser.
Eight minutes additional time was shown by the fourth official following the incident with Timlin which left Southend pegged in their own half.
Mooney had another chance for the home side in the 95th minute seeing his side footed effort from 18 yards cannon off the underside of the bar and onto the line before heading his rebound over the bar under pressure from the Blues defence.
Southend held onto victory giving Blues a one goal advantage going into the second leg at Roots Hall in two weeks time.