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BLUES at 110 | Pieces of history - Part Two

2 June 2016

A look back at some memorable Blues moments - This edition we look at Blues’ road to play-off glory in 2005.

As the club recently celebrated its 110th year in existence, we decided to pick out some particular key moments in Blues history.

This edition sees us look back at Blues triumphant trip to the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in 2005 as Southend booked their place in League One.

Tilson revamped his squad for the 2004/05 season with many expecting another difficult campaign. His key signing though came in October when he bought in youngster Freddy Eastwood, initially on loan, from non-leaguers Grays Athletic. He announced himself in the best possibly way with a debut hat-trick against Swansea City, the first coming after just 7.7 seconds of the game.

The LDV trophy as it was labelled then, again proved successful with the club reaching the final for the second consecutive season. However, Wrexham proved to be the better side in the final and won by two goals to nil.

Southend secured a play-off spot in 2004/05 finishing in fourth position, an agonising two points off automatic promotion after a late season wobble. Holding the coveted third position were the aforementioned Swansea, of course now an established Premier League outfit.

So the lottery of the play-off it was, and standing in the way of Blues’ march to the Millennium was Northampton Town.

The first leg at Sixfields Stadium was a tight affair with neither side managing to break the deadlock.

Darryl Flahavan did well to deny Lee Williamson, and then Andy Kirk as the game was reaching its conclusion.

At the other end, both Freddy Eastwood and Luke Guttridge headed wide of the target for the Blues.

In the reverse leg it proved yet another cagey match where it was the case that whoever got the first goal would snatch it.

Northampton gifted Southend that opportunity as Chris Wilmott fouled Mark Bentley in the box. Freddy Eastwood stepped up and lashed the penalty home as the disappointment of missing out on a top-three finish at Roots Hall switched to wild scenes of optimism.

Blues faced a late onslaught from the Cobblers, but manged to hold on to secure a third trip to Wales’ National Stadium, could this be third time lucky for Steve Tilson’s men?

Southend faced another stern test in the form of Lincoln City in the final on Saturday 28 May 2005, and their steel resolve made it a game of few openings.

After the break, Tilson’s side managed to impose themselves on their opponents after struggling to cope with their direct style in the first period.

Eastwood, full of exuberance, wasted a good chance as he miskicked as the ball broke to him in the box.

Blues also had a late penalty appeal waved away as Bentley was sent tumbling in the box by Lincoln defender Paul Morgan with seemingly no contact made with the ball.

The referee said no, 90 minutes were up and Extra Time was called in an attempt to separate the sides.

As the additional 30 minutes began, their appeared to be only one side who were looking to win it before a shoot-out as Southend took the game to Lincoln.

105 minutes on the clock, the half-way point of extra time loomed and a Blues effort cleared off the line had Lincoln scrambling.

Who would it fall to in the box? Who else but Eastwood who volleyed the ball home and well and truly set the engine running on Southend’s charge to the third-tier.

Lincoln were more shocked by that set-back as opposed to being fired up by it - Blues went in for the kill.

Promotion was gloriously confirmed five minutes into the second half of extra time when full back Duncan Jupp trekked seventy yards in searing heat to dispatch the ball masterfully into the Lincoln net. It was his first senior goal in ten years and secured passage to League One.

And this was just the start of Southend’s journey up the divisions!

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