Southend United gave the fans an instant reaction from Saturday’s defeat to Coventry with a comfortable 3-0 win over Walsall under the Roots Hall floodlights…
Blues came into the Tuesday night fixture off the back of a late 2-1 defeat to the Sky Blues over the weekend and Blues boss Chris Powell wanted his side to show everyone a reaction and that’s just what they did.
Powell made five changes from the weekend encounter with the main change seeing Harry Lennon make his first start since the opening game of the season, but the youngsters return from injury was cut short just shy of 17 minutes after he was stretchered off.
The game started rather slowly with neither side producing any chances that could test the oppositions keeper.
The first opportunity of the game went to tonight’s visitors which came from a set-piece. Connor Ronan’s free-kick was sent goal bound and his effort was deflected just inches over the bar.
Three minutes later and a clatter in the centre of the park between George Dobson and Lennon say a hefting amount of stoppage time added to the watch with both players needing immediate treatment.
Lennon tried to soldier on but the strong knock to his leg was too much and eventually had to be stretchered off, but Roots Hall gave the number 23 a standing ovation as he went off.
The injury meant the experienced centre back of Michael Turner had to be called upon and the 34-year-old slot right into the back four.
The substitution didn’t faze Blues, it gave them a new lease of life and they made good use of their dominant possession in the game.
All of Southend’s hard work finally paid off in the 21st minute with the on-loan winger Harry Bunn netting his first goal of the season.
The move came from a corner, Mantom swung in the ball with Taylor Moore initially making contact with the ball as he sent it goal bound and onto the crossbar, but Bunn was waiting on the edge of the six-yard area and smashed the ball into the bottom right corner.
Blues had an immediate scare, not from a goal, but from another injury with Southend’s leading goal scorer Tom Hopper violently falling to the floor.
After trying to take part in play again Powell thought it was best to sub the number nine off with Shawn McCoulsky replacing him.
Walsall had two golden chances to level the game before half-time but threw them away, with the better of the two seeing Ronan’s corner flying past Luke Leahy and all of Blues’ defence and just skimmed the head of Jon Guthrie whose diving header was seconds too late.
Neither side made any changes at half-time and the second-half started rather the same as the first, with neither side dominating possession.
Blues had the first chance of the second half with skipper Sam Mantom running onto McCoulsky’s through ball, but his valiant effort outside the area was saved by Liam Roberts.
The Saddlers had their first opportunity of the second-half from Leahy’s cross which found the head of Josh Ginnely who nodded the ball towards Oxley’s goal but Southend’s number one came to the rescue and pushed the header over his bar.
The first and only card of the evening went to Turner after the centre back appeared to have halted the visitors quick counter-attack.
Walsall made their first change with Ronan coming off for the experienced Andy Cook.
However, the change made no difference to Blues and just two minutes later they found themselves with a corner.
Mantom sent the corner in and his powerful ball found the head of the high-rising Timothee Dieng who powered his effort into the back of the net.
Blues were now full of energy and deserved to be in front and they made it 3-0 following some skilful footwork between Mantom and Dieng which gave Bunn the space to run unmarked down the left-hand side and open to cut a shot inside which took a deflection off of Jack Fitzwater and rifled into the goal another clinical goal from the on-loan winger.
The final change for Southend saw the man of the hour Bunn come off Michael Kightly.
The change of personnel and formation was the right move from Powell and the win is defiantly the kind of reaction the Blues boss would have wanted from his side.
The victory for Southe will be a massive boost for the team and it may prove vital ahead of this weekend’s away trip to Sunderland.
Tuesday 23rd October 2018
Roots Hall Stadium
Southend United vs Walsall (Sky Bet League One)
Southend United XI: Oxley (GK), Demetriou, Moore, Lennon (SUB Turner), Coker, Bunn, Mantom ©, Dieng, Yearwood, McLaughlin, Hopper (SUB McCoulsky).
Walsall XI: Roberts (GK), Leahy, Wilson, Guthrie, Fitzwater, Osbourne, Morris, Dobson ©, Ronan, Ginnelly, Ferrier.
Southend – 21’ 80' Harry Bunn & 75' Timothee Dieng
Walsall – N/A
Southend – 70’ Michael Turner
Walsall – N/A