Report: Cheltenham 1-2 Southend United
Southend United came from behind at Cheltenham Town to win 2-1 and extend their unbeaten run to six games.
Phil Brown’s side had to dig deep, but two goals in three second-half minutes was enough to hand Blues a huge three points.
Byron Harrison ended Blues’ run of over 400 minutes without conceding a goal to hand the hosts the lead right on the stroke of half-time.
But the introduction of Barry Corr and Jacob Murphy sparked Blues in to life, and Corr equalised with almost his first touch.
Just over a minute later, and Kevan Hurst grabbed his 12th of the season, latching on to Ryan Leonard’s pass before dinking the ball over Scott Brown.
After four successive clean sheets, two straight wins and five games without defeat, it was little surprise to see Phil Brown stick with the same side that had started both the recent victories; against Oxford United and Torquay.
The only changes came on the bench where Conor Clifford, Barry Corr, back from suspension, and Luke Chambers, in place of the injured Paul Smith, came in. Marc Laird and Jack Payne were the men to drop out of the squad.
After soaking up some early pressure from the hosts, Blues had the first shot on target of the game. Leonard’s long throw was cleared only as far as Hurst. The midfielder struck a sweet volley from the edge of the box that was well saved by Brown.
Hurst’s quality into the box was causing the hosts problems and after Mitch Brundle had just about diverted a low cross away from Jamar Loza, Lee Barnard went close with a looping header that went narrowly wide; again from a Hurst delivery.
With 17 clean sheets so far this season, Blues’ defensive qualities have been receiving high praise, and they were once again looking solid at the back.
The hosts, who had started well, had failed to test Daniel Bentley until Matt Richards’ 20-yard effort stung the palms of Blues’ goalkeeper.
There was to be no fifth clean sheet in a row however, as on the stroke of half-time, Cheltenham took the lead.
Blues were unable to clear a long ball into the box and it fell kindly for Harrison on the edge of the box, and he fired a low volley past the despairing Bentley.
The first chance of the second-half fell the way of Blues. Leonard’s long throw again caused Cheltenham problems, but John Egan’s powerful header was straight at Brown.
Blues were pinning Cheltenham back, but could still not find a way through, and Brown opted to make a double change. Corr and Jacob Murphy were the men to come on in place of Barnard and Will Atkinson.
The impact was immediate. A loose ball fell kindly for Corr who hit it goalwards and saw the ball creep into the bottom corner.
Moments later, and Blues had completed the turnaround. A Cheltenham free-kick was cleared and picked up by Leonard, who drove forward before playing in Hurst.
The midfielder’s touch looked heavy, but he managed to get in just before the onrushing Brown to lift the ball over him.
Hurst made way for Clifford as Blues looked to shore things up at the back, and that’s exactly what they did as they held on for a terrific three points on the road.
Blues: Bentley; White, Coker, Sokolik, Egan; Timlin, Leonard, Atkinson (Murphy 61), Hurst (Clifford 72); Barnard (Corr 61), Loza.
Subs: Chambers, Prosser, Straker, Eastwood.
Att; 2,949 (471 Blues fans).