Report: Southend United 2-1 Pompey
Ryan Leonard scored an injury time winner to hand Southend United a 2-1 win against Portsmouth at Roots Hall and ensure 2014 started with three points.
Leonard’s winner came after he had drawn Blues level with a deflected strike at the end of the first-half.
Sonny Bradley opened the scoring on the half-hour mark for the visitors who had started the game brightly, before Leonard grabbed his second of the season to level following a tactical first-half switch from Phil Brown.
And the midfielder’s stunning late strike earned Blues all three points as they made a winning start to 2014.
Brown named an unchanged side from the draw at Accrington Stanley, as Cauley Woodrow kept his place leading the line.
In front of a big crowd at Roots Hall, it was Pompey who started on the front foot.
Marcus Painter curled a left-footed free-kick towards goal and Dan Bentley had to be alert to tip it over the bar.
Bentley then produced an excellent save to tip away Ricky Holmes’ header from 12-yards after a quick Pompey break.
Blues broke quickly from the resulting corner through Ryan Leonard, with the midfielder running the length of the pitch, but his shot from just inside the box was palmed away by Trevor Carson.
Bentley was having an impressive game for Blues and was again called into action to push away Jed Wallace’s drive from the edge of the box.
The goalkeeper had to be at his best from the resulting corner to scramble clear Bondz N’Gala’s header with the aid of his near post.
Pompey made the breakthrough on the half-hour mark as substitute Ashley Harris’ corner found Bradley who volleyed past Bentley from ten yards.
Brown sensed things weren’t working for Blues and five minutes before half-time replaced Anthony Straker with Barry Corr.
That changed paid off immediately as Corr found Leonard who beat his man before seeing his effort from 25-yards take a deflection and find a way past Carson.
With the wind behind them, Blues started the second half on the front foot but were struggling to create any clear-cut chances.
A half chance presented itself to Corr just before the hour but Carson held his volley from the edge of the box.
Pompey though created two chances in quick succession but failed to take either. Harris blazed over the bar before Joe Devera did exactly the same moments later.
Hurst then tested Carson with a well-struck effort after a good pass from White, but the ‘keeper got down well to make the save.
It looked as though the game was heading for another draw for Blues, but Leonard had other ideas.
Corr teed him up and from 25-yards he fired a brilliant low strike past Carson into the bottom corner to hand Blues a winning start to 2014.
Blues: Bentley; White, Prosser, Phillips, Coker; Atkinson (Clifford 82), Leonard, Timlin; Straker (Corr 40), Hurst, Woodrow (Eastwood 67).
Not used: Smith, Payne, Laird, Thompson.