REPORT | Southend 3-0 Oldham
Two goals in three minutes from Nile Ranger and Theo Robinson, plus a late penalty from Anthony Wordsworth, helped 10-man Blues to a vital 3-0 win over Oldham Athletic at Roots Hall.
After a first half of little note, Southend felt their visitors should have been a man down midway through the second half when Ollie Banks brought down Simon Cox when he was clean through.
The Blues’ frustration was then compounded when Ryan Leonard was shown a straight red card for a late challenge on Ousmane Fane.
Despite being a man down, Phil Brown’s side produced their best football after the sending off and took the lead when Theo Robinson picked out Nile Ranger at the far post for a tap-in.
Robinson had been brought on minutes before Leonard’s red card and he was on hand to head Southend further in front as he was picked out at the far post by Anthony Wordsworth’s free-kick.
Brown’s side would put the gloss on the scoreline deep into injury time after Jermaine McGlashan won the Blues a penalty which was confidently dispatched by Wordsworth.
With almost all of Southend’s promotion rivals also winning, the three points was a huge step towards securing a play-off place, but Brown will have been particularly delighted with the clean sheet after he was left without a goalkeeper following a wrist injury to Ted Smith.
It meant that the Blues were forced to bring in an emergency loan in the form of former England u21 goalkeeper and Brighton stopper, Christian Walton.
The introduction of Walton was the only change for the Blues who created the first chance of the game when Nile Ranger’s header forced a diving catch from Connor Ripley.
With Oldham having the joint-second best defensive record in the league, Phil Brown expected the Latics to come to Roots Hall looking and frustrate his side.
But in a tense first half John Sheridan’s side created a couple of half chances of their own, none better than Chris Taylor’s curling effort just went a whisker past Walton’s left-hand post.
Southend were failing to create anything clear cut of their own with Stephen McLaughlin having a couple of efforts zip just wide or blocked by the rigid Oldham defence.
And in a disappointing first half Oldham went close to taking the lead when left-back Josh Law struck one from 25-yards out that went narrowly wide of the far post.
Southend began the second half in much livelier fashion as Ben Coker got on the end of a one-two with Simon Cox to get into the box and fire a shot across Ripley but wide of the target.
Cox was then involved in an incident with Ollie Banks which the Oldham midfielder was lucky to get away with a yellow card after bringing the Blues striker down as he was through on goal.
Southend hit Oldham on the counter-attack after Ryan McLaughlin’s free-kick had struck the wall. A long ball over the top had set Cox away before he was clipped by Banks, who appeared to be the last man, only for referee Kevin Johnson to give a yellow card.
The feeling of injustice around Roots Hall was only exacerbated when Southend were reduced to 10-men after Ryan Leonard’s late challenge on Ousmane Fane drew a red card from referee Johnson.
Every decision from the referee was now was being met by howls of derision from the Roots Hall crowd but their frustration switched to joy as 10-man Blues took the lead with 15 minutes to go.
Substitute Theo Robinson managed to get himself into the penalty area and find Ranger completely unmarked at the back-post for the simplest of finishes from two-yards out.
Robinson was causing Oldham all sorts of problems down the left-hand side and managed to get goal-side again before almost finding the diving head of Timlin who headed wide.
And moments later Robinson doubled Southend’s lead after getting on the end of a Wordsworth free-kick towards the far post with his header beating Ripley at his near-post.
The two goals in three minutes had completely knocked the stuffing out of their visitors as Southend comfortably saw out the rest of the game before grabbing a third in the sixth minute of injury time.
Former Blues defender Peter Clarke was adjudged to have brought down Jermaine McGlashan in the penalty area with the linesman flagging for the spot kick. Wordsworth stepped up to send Ripley the wrong way with the penalty to wrap up Southend’s fourth straight win.
The three points consolidated the Blues’ place in the play-offs, putting them just one point behind Scunthorpe with Bolton the visitors on Tuesday.
Blues XI | Walton, Coker, Wordsworth, Thompson, Cox (Timlin 73’), McLaughlin (McGlashan 54’), Atkinson (Robinson 63’), Leonard, Demetriou, Ferdinand (C), Ranger. Subs Not Used: White, Fortune, Amos, Inniss
Oldham Athletic XI | Ripley, Law (Flynn 82’), Gerrard, Banks, Taylor, Erwin, Fane (Ngoo 79’), Clarke (C), McLaughlin, Green (O’Neill 86’), Obadeyi. Subs Not Used: Kettings, Croft, Edmundson, Mantack
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Assistants: Anthony Da Costa & Carl Fitch-Jackson
Fourth Official: Dave Bushell
Southend United: Nile Ranger 75’, Theo Robinson 78’, Anthony Wordsworth (p)90+6’
Oldham Athletic: None
Southend United: Anthony Wordsworth 22’, Simon Cox 44’, Ben Coker 69’
Oldham Athletic: Ollie Banks 62’, Paul Green 69’
Southend United: Ryan Leonard 70’
Oldham Athletic: None