REPORT | Southend 2-1 Rochdale
SIMON COX’S 100th career goal in the 93rd minute secured Southend a vital three points against fellow promotion chasers Rochdale with both sides ending the game with 10 men.
The Blues had gone in front after 15 minutes when Marc-Antoine Fortune latched onto a poor back-pass from Keith Keane to round goalkeeper Conrad Logan and score into an empty net.
Keane’s afternoon then went bad to worse as he was shown a straight red card for bringing down Fortune when he was the last man with Anthony Wordsworth hitting the bar with the resulting free kick.
Southend’s man advantage didn’t last long though as before the break The Blues were also down to 10 after Jermaine McGlashan was shown a second yellow card for a needless trip on Ian Henderson.
The visitors levelled with a bit of fortune after Calvin Andrew’s shot deflected off the back of Henderson and went in off the underside of the crossbar.
But Southend stole the points late on as in the third of three minutes added on Simon Cox was picked out by Atkinson before finding the top corner.
The win was a perfect tonic for Phil Brown’s Blues after losing their first game in 14 matches last weekend against Sheffield United.
And in Rochdale, Southend had a difficult test as the Dale came to Roots Hall in fine form, winning all of their previous six matches and advancing to the Emirates FA Cup 4th Round.
Southend made just the one change from the Blades defeat with Jermaine McGlashan coming in for Nile Ranger and the Blues began the game well with Marc-Antoine Fortune cutting inside from the right only to drag his shot tamely at goalkeeper Conrad Logan.
Just a few minutes later and Fortune had put Southend in front after Keith Keane, under pressure from McGlashan, played a terribly short back-pass which Fortune latched onto, rounding Logan to score his first league goal of the season after quarter of an hour.
After going a goal behind Rochdale’s afternoon was made much worse when the Dale were reduced to 10-men. Logan’s poor clearance went straight to Fortune who was brought down outside the area by Keane with referee Rob Lewis showing the centre half a straight red card.
From the resulting free-kick Anthony Wordsworth came within millimetres of rubbing salt in the Rochdale wound as his free kick from 20-yards came back of the underside of the crossbar with Logan left motionless.
Fortune had a great chance to grab his and Southend’s second as the Blues teased the Rochdale defence with pass after pass across the back-line, before Fortune found enough space to get his shot away which was cleared off the line.
Rochdale’s numerical disadvantage lasted just 12 minutes as Southend were also reduced to 10-men when McGlashan was given a second yellow card. Having been booked earlier in the half for a late challenge the midfielder was given his marching orders after tripping Ian Henderson as Dale broke.
McGlashan’s sending off seemed to spark Rochdale into life with Ollie Rathbone flicking a header just wide and Callum Camps came within a whisker of grabbing Rochdale an equaliser before the break as his shot from distance just whistled over the crossbar.
Southend ended the half with a flurry as Fortune forced Logan into punching his shot from inside the area away before Simon Cox beat the offside trap to burst clear only for him to flash his strike wide of goal.
Early in the second half and Southend were calling for a third red card of the game as Matthew Lund caught Leonard having already been booked in the first half, and Lund was incredibly lucky not to be shown a red after he gave a free kick away for a handball mere seconds before being subbed.
Calvin Andrew had a couple of glorious headed chances for the visitors with his first a tame effort that went straight into the hands of Ted Smith and his second a free header from a Joe Rafferty corner which went wide.
And after seeing those chances go begging Andrew helped Rochdale equalised in fortuitous circumstances as the striker’s left-footed effort from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Henderson, nestling in net after hitting the underside of the crossbar.
Having looked in control for most of the game the impetuous was now with the visitors and sub Jamie Allen had a great chance to put Rochdale in front after he was found by a cut-back into the box but he blazed over the bar.
Southend came back with Cox falling easily in the penalty area with referee Lewis having none of it before Cox couldn’t quite convert a low ball into the area which was blocked by some desperate Dale defending.
Smith needed to prevent Henderson from scoring from an increasingly tight angle before Cox was almost picked out by a superb Will Atkinson cross which flashed across the face of goal to the despair of Blues fans.
As the game entered the final stages Smith had to get down quickly to his right to stop Allen’s low strike and up the other end Fortune was found in a great position, cutting onto his right only to his straight at ‘keeper Logan.
Rochdale came desperately close to completing the turnaround as Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s cross was tipped away by Smith the Blues’ goalie reacting quickly to stop Reuben Noble-Lazarus from poking the ball in at the far post.
With seconds of normal time remaining Southend had a great chance to steal the win as Zavon Hines found Atkinson only for him to inexplicably blaze over the bar from 12 yards out but the Blues did snatch the points as Cox scored deep into injury time.
Having missed a chance minutes earlier, Atkinson slipped Cox in behind the Dale back line with the striker finding the top corner to score his 100th career goal and send Roots Hall into wild celebrations.
Dale still had time to create a great chance to quiet those celebrations with almost the final kick of the game when Henderson stole into the area with his effort needing a last ditch clearance off the line to ensure Southend won all three points.
Blues XI | Smith, Wordsworth (Coker 76’), Thompson, Timlin, Cox, Atkinson, Fortune (Hines 88’), McGlashan, Leonard, Demetriou, Ferdinand (C). Subs Not Used: White, O’Neill, Bridge, Matsuzaka, Bexon
Rochdale XI | Logan, Rafferty, McNulty, McGahey, Lund (Mendez-Laing 50’), Andrew, Camps (C), Rathbone (Allen 61’), Keane, Davies (Nolbe-Lazarus 25’), Henderson. Subs Not Used: Lillis, Canavan, Owusu, Cannon
Referee: Rob Lewis
Assistants: Dave Bushell & Carl Fitch-Jackson
Fourth Official: Christopher Pollard
Southend United: Marc-Antoine Fortune 15’ Simon Cox 90+3'
Rochdale: Calvin Andrew 66’
Southend United: Jermaine McGlashan 25’
Rochdale: Conrad Logan 24’, Matthew Lund 31’, Callum Camps 74’
Southend United: Jermaine McGlashan 34’
Rochdale: Keith Keane 22’