REPORT | Southend United 3-1 Burton AlbionSouthend United beat top of the table Burton Albion 3-1 in front of the television cameras at Roots Hall.
Anthony Wordsworth’s early goal was cancelled out just before half-time in a contentious manner via Stuart Beavon, but Blues hit back in the second half thanks to a wonder goal from Tyrone Barnett.
David Mooney, a second half substitute, seeled things late third on with a third to ensure the points were safe.
Blues made two changes from the defeat to Bradford last Tuesday, Barnett and Jack Payne replacing Gary Deegan and Stephen McLaughlin.
It was a bright start for the hosts, winning a corner inside the first 30 seconds, which came to nothing.
It was an even better start in the seventh minute when Wordsworth was well placed to open the scoring with a strike from 18 yards.
Tyrone Barnett picked up the ball inside his own half and made a marauding run deep into Burton territory.
The on-loan Shrewsbury striker layed it off to Jack Payne, who cut in and took aim but fortunately his deflected effort set up nicely for Wordsworth who buried the ball into the bottom right hand corner.
The game turned very flat after the fast start, which suited Blues having taken the early lead.
The Brewers’ best chance of the opening 20 minutes came from Tom Naylor’s corner which Phil Edwards headed over.
Blues responded through Barnett who was playing havoc with the Burton defenders, freely spinning on the half turn and firing at goal from an acute angle just wide of Jon McLaughlin’s goal frame.
The visitors had their best chance in the 25th minute, Stuart Beavon teeing up Tom Naylor on the D of the penalty area who had his goal bound shot deflected behind for a corner by Michael Timlin.
From the corner it was Edwards once again who rose highest and, once again, headed over Bentley’s bar.
Burton continued to ask questions but Blues had the answers and were relatively happy entering the closing stages of the first period.
Robbie Weir’s pile-driver was on target but straight at Bentley who smothered it well.
Cian Bolger had a powerful header from Ben Coker’s free-kick but it was narrowly wide of the far post before Burton attacked via Beavon’s expert close control setting
The Brewers were being kept at bay and restricted to shots from distance, Mason Bennett cutting in form the right and trying his luck from distance but it was saved by Bentley down to his left.
With their next attack, Burton levelled the score with a minute left of the half.
Mark Butcher ran from the touchline into the Southend box and set up Baevon who turned onto his right foot and found the bottom right hand corner via a deflection.
There was huge controversy in the build up with Southend players and fans along the sideline of the West Stand claiming the ball had gone out before Butcher was allowed to travel with the ball, but the calls fell on death ears and the last action of the half was reason for Southend fans to let the referee know of their discontent.
Burton were fast out the traps to start the second half and went close from a corner which came out to Weir from Butcher’s blocked shot, but his half volley went wide.
Beavon then held the ball up for Butcher to run onto and the midfielder, who was playing against his home-town side, angled another shot from range just past the left post with the outside of his boot.
Blues then re-took the lead in the 63rd minute with an unstoppable strike from Barnett.
Noel Hunt found Payne, who rode past a Burton challenge and rolled the ball onto the big centre forward who created the opening by letting the ball run across him onto his right foot and curled the ball past the outstretched hand of McLaughlin into the top right corner.
The goalkeeper could have no complaints having been beaten by a great goal.
The game became scrappy which suited Blues.
Burton caused some discomfort with a goalmouth scramble which was cleared at the second time of asking.
Phil Brown made his first of two changes in quick succession with Sam McQueen first entering for Payne and David Mooney for Hunt in reply to Nigel Clough calling for Callum Reilly for Butcher.
Ben Coker had a free-kick in a dangerous area 25 yards out, central to goal, but McLaughlin was able to safely claim.
Southend defended resolutely in the last 10 minutes and kept Burton at arms length and there was even time for a third.
Substitute David Mooney received the ball from the other sub, McQueen, and the striker waited for McLaughlin to go down and he placed the ball the other side to his left.
The win closes the gap to Coventry in the sixth to two points.
Bentley; Coker Barrett, Bolger, O’Neill; Atkinson, Timlin, Wordsworth, Payne (78’ McQueen), Barnnett, Hunt (81’ Mooney)
McLaughlin; Edwards, Cansdell-Sherriff, Mousinho, Weir, Beavon, Butcher (76’ Reilly), McCrory, Naylor, Duffy, Bennett (60’ Akins)