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ON THIS DAY | Blues win promotion to League One after penalty shootout victory!

23 May 2016

Read the report one year on from that famous day on Wembley Way on Saturday 23 May

Southend United will be playing League One football next season, after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory at Wembley Stadium.

After playing out a 1-1 draw after extra-time at Wembley, a penalty shoot-out finally settled the result, with Southend United winning 7-6 on penalties.

Phil Brown reverted to the side that lined up for Southend’s first leg draw with Stevenage, as Stephen McLaughlin returned to the starting line-up in place of Joe Pigott.

Wycombe Wanderers got the game underway, but were forced into an early change in just the third minute of the game, when Sam Saunders limped off. Chairboys boss Gareth Ainsworth chose to send on veteran midfielder Matt Bloomfield to replace Saunders.

The opening ten minutes contained no clear-cut chances, but Southend began to make inroads in the 12th minute after winning three corners in the space of three minutes.

The third ball in, from McLaughlin, yielded the first chance of the final. His whipped ball in from the right-hand side saw Barry Corr try his luck with a bouncing header. Unfortunately, on this occasion the bounce took the pace out of the ball and Wycombe keeper Alex Lynch was able to claim.

Blues racked up a fourth corner in the 16th minute, with Cian Bolger going close to breaking the deadlock. Bolger made a darting run to get his head on Will Atkinson’s delivery, but his effort flashed just wide of the far post.

Wycombe forward Paul Hayes was the first player to go into the book shortly after the 20-minute mark, after he felled McLaughlin, who was making a dangerous run towards the penalty area.

Southend had the ball in the back of the net after just 23 minutes, but had Corr’s far-post effort chalked off following a push from Bolger in the build-up.

Two minutes later it was Ainsworth’s men who had the ball in the net, despite the linesman correctly raising his flag to indicate that Hayes was offside.

Bolger then picked up a yellow card for a rash challenge on Wycombe midfielder Sam Wood.

A dangerous ball in from the left for Wycombe in the 39th minute required Dan Bentley to react quickly, dropping on the ball to deny a flick from Hayes.

Wycombe had another attempt just one minute later, but Wood’s ambitious left-footed attempted flew just over the crossbar of the Southend goal.

Atkinson hooked a looping cross towards Corr in the 44th minute, but his header was off-target.

The two sides went in level at the break, with no goals in the first 45 minutes at Wembley Stadium.

Wycombe had a corner within the first minute of the second half, but a headed effort from the Chairboys flew harmlessly over Bentley’s goal.

Southend were beginning to put themselves back on the front foot once again, as a teasing ball across the goalmouth from McLaughlin went to waste.

His low ball across the area went without contact from Corr, before a sliding David Worrall was within inches of getting the crucial touch.

In the 54th minute, Corr fouled Ephraim just yards outside the Southend area, with Joe Jacobson curling the resulting free-kick over the bar.

Southend’s first substitution came in the 59th minute, as Joe Pigott replaced McLaughlin.

Just past the hour mark, Corr chested the ball down before rolling it wide to Worrall. The Southend winger then whipped a ball across goal, but Wycombe stopped Lynch was able to dive and keep out Corr’s header.

Southend substitute Pigott then tried his luck from range, but saw his effort fly over.

Adam Barrett then twice went close to breaking the deadlock, first meeting an Atkinson corner to head just past the far post.

The second attempt came just two minutes later, with Barrett heading wide of the near post, following a short corner routine from Atkinson and Michael Timlin.

Wycombe were next to attempt to find the first goal of the game, with Hayes finding space on the left-hand side of the area. His low effort across goal was pushed away by Bentley, enabling Coker to charge across and clear the danger from the rebound.

A crucial interception from Coker then sent Southend forward on the counter attack, with the ball going wide to Worrall before being played in behind for Corr. The Southend forward had Pigott in space to his left, but opted to go it alone, enabling the Wycombe defence to snuff out his attempt.

Pigott had an attempt of his own soon after, winning possession and cutting inside before curling a left-footed effort just off-target.

Brown made his second change with 11 minutes remaining, as Myles Weston replaced Atkinson.

Ainsworth followed suit soon after, with Steven Craig replacing Ephraim with five minutes of regulation time remaining.

A great reaction save from Bentley then kept the score at 0-0, as a powerful header from Aaron Pierre required the Southend goalkeeper to be at his best to tip over the crossbar.

Alfie Mawson was then given a yellow card for a foul on Pigott.

In three minutes of added time, Bean of Wycombe and Ryan Leonard of Southend both required treatment. Match referee Hooper blew the final whistle without a chance of note in added time.

Extra-time and possibly penalties would be required to separate the two sides and determine who would be promoted to League One. 

Hayes dragged a low effort wide of goal in the early stages, before heading over after a cross from Craig.

A header from Corr marked Southend’s first effort of extra-time, but the Irishman’s header floated into the arms of Lynch, following a free-kick from Worrall.

It was to be Wycombe who eventually broke the deadlock, with Jacobson’s expertly-hit free-kick clipping the underside of the bar before bouncing over the line in the 95th minute.

Southend boss Brown reacted immediately, withdrawing Worrall to make way for Jack Payne.

Wycombe looked to double their lead when Craig rolled the ball into the path of Hayes, but his low effort lacked any real conviction and enabled Bentley to gather.

That was the last moment of note in the first period of extra-time, with Southend getting the second period underway.

A long throw from Leonard then sparked havoc in the box, before Wycombe keeper Lynch came down with the ball.

Wycombe then made their final change, with Peter Murphy replacing Nico Yennaris in the 110th minute.

Leonard then found himself cautioned for an act of dissent with six minutes remaining.

Southend were running out of time, and had another chance when Coker’s cross found the head of Pigott, only for the Charlton Athletic loanee to head wide of the near post.

But their efforts were rewarded when in the second of two minutes of injury time, Pigott swivelled before firing a low effort into the far side of the Wycombe net.

The late goal sent the Southend fans into raptures, as a penalty shoot-out beckoned.

The final whistle came and went, with a coin toss deciding that Southend United would take the first penalty, in front of the Wycombe Wanderers fans.

Goalscoring hero Pigott stepped up to the spot first and scored, as did Wycombe defender Murphy.

Coker then saw his spot-kick saved, as Mawson scored his own effort to threaten to derail Southend’s promotion hopes.

Both Leonard and Hayes scored in the next round of penalties, leaving Wycombe with a 3-2 lead after three rounds of spot-kicks.

Substitute Payne then converted for Southend, before Wycombe’s own substitute, Bloomfield, saw Bentley save his effort.

Timlin stepped up next for Southend and scored, as did Wycombe defender Bean.

That penalty left the score at 4-4 after five penalties each, signalling a sudden-death shoot-out.

Barrett was first to take, thundering his penalty high into the net, before Jacobson scored to level the scores.

Weston scored the next penalty for Southend, but Aaron Holloway’s effort went in off the post to force another round in the shoot-out.

Bolger took Southend’s seventh penalty, and found the back of the net.

It all hinged on Wood failing to convert, with Bentley saving the spot-kick to send Southend United into League One.

SOUTHEND UNITED: Bentley; White, Bolger, Barrett, Coker; Worrall (Payne - 95’), Leonard, Atkinson (Weston  - 79’), Timlin, McLaughlin (Pigott - 59’); Corr.

Unused Subs: T. Smith, Prosser, Deegan, Cassidy.

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