Chris Powell’s tenure as Blues manager got off to the perfect start, as a 90th minute Michael Turner winner sealed a vital three points for Southend United in a thrilling game.
A fired up Southend side bested the Iron to win their first game of 2018, and to end a streak of four games without a win.
Despite a great start to the first half, Powell found his men a goal behind following a poor clearance from Mark Oxley, resulting in Tom Hopper to head in the opening goal from six-yards out.
Scunthorpe keeper Rory Watson had kept all of Southend’s chances out in the opening 45 minutes, but a stroke of luck from Kightly eight minutes from halftime resulted in the winger beating the Iron keeper with a cross-come-shot that looped over the shot stopper, and into the net for the Blues equaliser.
The Blues’ persistence for goals continued into the second half, and come the 52nd minute Southend were in front. A free-kick from 20-yards out was eyed up by McLaughlin, and the Irishman’s take from the dead-ball scenario was perfect, as his strike fired straight into the bottom corner, giving the hosts a deserved lead.
The lead was not to least, though, as Graham Alexander’s side were able to find an equalising goal four minutes following McLaughlin’s free-kick, as Kevin van Veen was allowed to smash in from close-range to tie the game up.
Just when a draw looked like the ending result, the Blues were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area. McLaughlin drilled in the ball into the area, and after some confusion in the box, defender Turner was able to slide in the winning goal, to seal the three points for Southend United.
The Blues started brightly as Simon Cox begun the game dangerously, hounding down the Scunthorpe keeper when given the chance, and getting an effort off four minutes in that was easily saved by Rory Watson.
The left wing was a particular area the Iron found hard to defend, as the downside of the 3-5-2 formation Scunthorpe had fielded and the positioning of Kightly made it easy for the winger to find space, and exploit the visitors.
Despite the promising signs early on from the hosts, the Blues conceded the opening goal 12 minutes in.
A messy passage of play in the Southend area resulted in Oxley poorly clearing the ball out to van Veen, who’s floated cross back into the box found the head of Hopper, and the Scunthorpe striker headed in the opening goal from six-yards out.
Despite the setback, Powell’s team remained determined to get back into the game. Southend responded with two quick chances from Cox and a returning Marc-Antoine Fortune, but both efforts were denied.
McLaughlin came close to the Blues’ opening goal of the day, as the winger burst down the centre of the park, and fired a goal bound strike towards goal. However, Watson was again able to react quickly and pull off a good save to deny the midfielder.
After knocking on the door for most of the first half, the Blues finally managed to level the game 36 minutes in through the danger man, Kightly.
The winger collected the ball from the throw-in line down the left wing, and his initial cross flew over all the heads in the penalty area, as well as the keeper’s, and ricocheted off the right post before crossing the line and earning the Blues a deserved goal going into halftime.
Southend carried their form and fight into the second half, and within seven minutes they were ahead.
McLaughlin stepped up to take a free-kick 20-yards from goal, and the Irish winger’s low, powerful strike split the wall in two, and the ball thundered into the corner of the net to give the Blues the lead.
However, the Blues’ lead did not last for long as a van Veen managed to level the game just four minutes after McLaughlin gave Southend the lead.
A Iron corner from the right wing resulted in Murray Wallace’s effort in the area being blocked, but the ball fell perfectly to van Veen, and the Dutch striker had an easy finish to make it 2-2 after 56 minutes.
Despite the sucker punch after taking the lead, the Blues remained confident as Cox came inches wide of giving Southend the lead yet again in the second half, when the striker’s effort from distance was well-tipped over by Watson in the 60th minute.
Scunthorpe almost snatched the win right at the death as Charlie Goode’s header from a late corner kick resulted in goal scorer McLaughlin clearing the ball off the line with a well timed header, to deny the visitors the three points.
Goode was then sent off going into stoppage time for a reckless challenge, and the late drama did not stop there, as Turned bundled in the winning goal two minutes into stoppage time.
A free-kick on the right wing found it’s way into the Scunthorpe area, and after a messy passage of play the ball fell to Southend’s defender, and with a last ditch sliding shot, the ball bundled it’s way into the goal, to seal the game for the Blues.
The result means that Southend shoot up to 17th place in the league table, four points above the drop zone.
Blues XI: Oxley; Demetriou, White, Turner, Coker (C); McLaughlin, Yearwood, Timlin, Kightly; Cox, Fortune (Robinson, 82’). Subs not used: Bishop, Ferdinand, McGlashen, Klass, Kyprianou, Wabo
Scunthorpe United FC XI: Watson; Goode, Burgess, Wallace; Holmes, Ojo (C), McGeehan (Yates, 59’), Morris, Adelakun; Hopper, van Veen (Novak, 82’). Subs not used: Kelsey, Townsend, Toney, Sutton, McArdle
Referee: Craig Hicks
Assistants: Andrew Williams & Paul Kelly
Fourth Official: Charles Breakspear
Southend United: Kightly 37’, McLaughlin 52’, Turner 90’
Scunthorpe United FC: Hopper 12’, van Veen 56’
Southend United: McLaughlin 28’
Scunthorpe United FC: Burgess 47’, Goode 52’, Hopper 68'
Scunthorpe United FC: Goode, 90’