REPORT | Southend United 3-1 Sheffield UnitedSouthend United got themselves firmly back on the play-off trail with a 3-1 victory over Sheffield United.
Goals from Tyrone Barnett, David Worrall, and Jack Payne saw the Blues move up to eighth position in the League 1 standings.
Hammond had levelled for the Blades following Barnett’s opener but two second half stunners saw Southend home and dry!
Phil Brown made four changes to the side that lost 4-1 to Rochdale last time out with Worrall, Myles Weston, Will Atkinson and Stephen McLaughlin coming into the team.
There was also a place on the bench for Ryan Leonard, who had recovered from a medial knee ligament injury sustained in the match against Colchester, and Piotr Malarczyk was named on the subs list after his loan move from Ipswich Town last week.
Sheffield were the team to fashion the game’s first opportunity as Sharp tested the gloves of Bentley on the half volley from 20-yards after eight minutes.
The Blues lining-up in a 5-3-2 formation began to impose themselves on the game, and went close on the ten-minute mark as Deegan fired over just inside the box from a neatly worked short corner.
The visitors went even closer on 14’ as Done got the by-line and Bentley managed to stop the ball squeezing past him. The Blues stopper then saved superbly from point blank range denying Flynn.
Blues turn next, Atkinson challenged well to win the ball in the middle, Payne skipped past his marker with ease and put through Weston on the right. The winger cut in on his favoured left peg, but saw his shot blocked on 24’.
Bentley had the Blues fans hearts in their mouths as he nearly let a long range Sharp effort slip through his gloves. Thankfully he recovered.
And what a save that proved to be as the Blues took the lead through Tyrone Barnett on 28 minutes.
A Worrall free kick from the right met the head of Thompson who nodded goalwards. Long fumbled and the target man was there to prod home.
The visitors weren’t behind for long though as they levelled the scoring through Hammond on 34’
Following a Thompson foul on the edge, Done played the set-piece to the back post where the former Southampton man was there to head his side back on terms.
Four minutes after Blades goal, Blues nearly retook the advantage as McLaughlin was sent racing down the right-hand side.
The midfielder got to the edge of the box before cutting in to release a low drive which Long got down well to stop.
The Blues came close again just before the half as Barnett headed within a whisker after Thompson’s cross.
Half-Time Southend United 1-1 Sheffield United
Southend had Ben Coker to thank they didn’t go behind after 52 minutes. Adams danced his way through the Blues defence, and seemingly with only Bentley to beat, Coker arrived to produce a tackle worthy of world class standard. The ball then fell to Adams again who blazed over.
If that chance was clear cut, the next one was golden. Blades top scorer Sharp went clean through on 55’ to only lift his lobbed effort over Bentley and more importantly, the bar.
One minute later it was the Blues were trying their luck as a Worrall shot from distance was well saved by long.
That effort appeared to warm Worrall’s boots up perfectly as he gave Southend the lead on the hour mark with a stunner.
The winger cut inside on the right before unleashing a pile driver in to the far corner; 2-1 to the home side!
And but for a vital block from the visitors, Deegan would have stretched the lead further on 64’ as his goalbound effort from the edge was stopped after the ball presented itself to the Irishman perfectly.
Barnett was next to test Long on 68’ as he laced one towards the bottom left-hand corner but the keeper was up to the challenge.
Phil Brown looked to defend the advantage reverting back to a 4-4-2 with John White coming on to replace McLaughlin with 15 left to play.
That solidity at the back made the Blues dangerous on the counter, with the pace of sub McQueen and Payne posing many a threat to the Blades. McQueen was just short of meeting Worrall’s inviting cross on 81’
On came Sammon on 83 minutes as the away looked to throw the kitchen sink at it. Blues too making a change with the timely return of Leonard, replacing Worrall.
Another sub, Calvert-Lewin had Bentley stretching on 87’ as his volley sailed just over.
Barnett had a golden opportunity to seal it on 88’ as he was sent through on goal, but Long denied the striker a brace.
It needed a little bit of magic to settle this one and up step Jack Payne who floated past the Blades back-line before a clinical chip sent Roots Hall in to ecstasy and Southend back on the play-off trail.