Southend United surrendered a two goal lead at the County Ground, as they went down 4-2 to Swindon Town.Southend United surrendered a two goal lead at the County Ground, as they went down 4-2 to Swindon Town.
Braces from Obika and Ajose cancelled out a debut goal for Tyrone Barnett and a header from Adam Thompson, as the Robins made sure it was three defeats in a row for the Blues.
Phil Brown spoke about making wholesale changes prior to the game, and stuck to his word by making six alterations from the Doncaster defeat last time out.
Luke O,Neill, Luke Prosser, David Worrall, Gary Deegan, Michael Timlin and new boy, Barnett came in for John White (Hamstring), Adam Barrett, Glen Rea (loan expired), Jack Payne, Will Atkinson and David Mooney respectively.
Stephen McLaughlin was also missing from the squad as he joined White on the injury list, while Timlin took the captains’ armband in the regular skippers’ absence.
In opposition, Caretaker Boss, Luke Williams made three changes to his side after losing six of his squad this week to loan recalls.
The game was just five minutes old before springing in to life, as debut boy Barnett put the Blues ahead with the very first chance of the game.
A defensive mix up at the back occurred as the Robins tried to play a goal-kick out from the back.
Ryan Leonard dispossessed Drissa Traore midway inside Town’s half, before putting through Barnett to score with a powerful, right-footed drive from 20 yards.
Not resting on their laurels, Southend continue to bring the game to Swindon, with both Noel Hunt and Worrall going close before the 10 minute mark.
The much rejuvenated side were rewarded for their early efforts by doubling their advantage on 13 minutes.
A Ben Coker free kick from the right-hand side was floated in with precision to find Thompson at the back-post. The defender nodded in to put daylight in the rain between the two sides.
Despite an impressive start, the Blues still had to show their metal at the back as Dan Bentley had to stretch to tip over a deflected strike from Jonathan Obika on 20’.
Bentley was equal to an Obika effort again ten minutes later; this time the striker was denied from 10 yards out connecting with Ormonde-Ottewill’s low ball from the left.
Despite an improved showing up top, Swindon looked all over the place at the back.
Hunt robbed keeper, Lawrence Vigouroux of the ball just outside the box on 30 minutes, but through luck rather than skill, the ball was scrambled away.
The home crowd grew more and more restless as the half drew on as the Robins continued to be robbed of possession by impressive Blues pressing.
The Robins gradually started to impose themselves on the game, but Jordan Turnbull did little to silence the boos as Bentley yet again was ready when called upon, denying the defender after a well worked short corner.
Timlin missed a golden opportunity to make it three on 40 minutes as Hunt threaded it through with just the keeper to beat. Unfortunately for Blues, the Irishman was denied by the legs of Vigouroux.
Southend would feel more frustrated for not putting that chance away, as Nicky Ajose put the Robins back in the match on 40’.
Bentley got down well to deny Obika yet again, but could not prevent Ajose converting the rebound as the winger reacted first to the loose ball.
The momentum swung with immediate effect, and Southend could not deny Obika from leveling up the scores on the stroke of half-time.
Another low-ball was swung in, this time from the right, finding the former Spurs man to ensure it was honours even at the break.
Half-Time: Swindon Town 2-2 Southend United
With the game set up nicely, the home side were visibly growing in confidence as they began the second half.
But it was Southend who had the first real opportunity of the second period, as Deegan came within a whisker from a half volley just outside the area on 49’.
The Blues continued to knock at the door; nearly regaining the lead from a Hunt header at the 52 minute mark, after another inch-perfect set-piece delivery from Coker.
On FA Cup weekend, this domestic fixture had every inch the feel of a cup-tie as it rapidly turned in to an end-to-end affair.
Ormonde-Ottewill will have been disappointed not to put his side ahead when he blazed over with the goal at his mercy, after latching on to a zipping low ball in to the box from the right.
Fabien Robert almost caught Bentley off his line just after the hour mark, but the keeper managed to scrambled back to palm the ball away from the goals’ clutches.
Southend had Thompson to thank that the scores remained level on 70’, as the centre-back blocked another goal-bound effort from Robert, as the Frenchman found space and charged in to the box from the left.
It has to be said it was the home-side that looked most likely to bag the next goal, and they did just that as Obika was allowed to run from his own half in to the Blues’ box, before bagging a brace, finding the bottom right-hand corner with aplomb.
Phil Brown’s men looked shell shocked, and nearly found themselves conceding a fourth as Anton Rodgers almost doubled the Robins advantage, curling a shot just wide on 86’.
Swindon wouldn’t have to wait long to add to Southend’s misery, as substitute Atkinson gifted Ajose the ball on the half-way line, sending him clean through.
No one could catch the Robins top scorer and he slotted the ball past Bentley to complete the scoring.
Southend: Bentley, O’Neill, Thompson, Prosser, Coker, Worrall, Leonard, Deegan (Hurst, 65’), Timlin (Atkinson 86’), Barnett, Hunt.
Subs not used: T.Smith, Payne, Mooney, Barrett, Bolger.
Booked: Deegan (53’) Thompson (90’)
Swindon Town: Vigouroux, Barry, Branco, Turnbull, Ormonde-Ottewill, Rodgers, Kasim, Traore (Balmy), Robert, Obika, Ajose.
Subs not used: Belford, Brophy, Landolo, Stewart, Hylton, M.Smith
Attendance: 7,162 (620 Visitors)