Southend United registered their first three points of the season with a brilliant, dogged display away to MK Dons.
Charlie Kelman fired in an early goal after coming back into the side and Blues held on magnificently for the remaining 86 minutes in tenacious style to keep an important clean sheet, the first time they have done so in eight months.
The win brought about much relief for players, fans and staff alike, and sets up an important game back at Roots Hall next weekend against Accrington Stanley.
Caretaker manager Gary Waddock made two enforced changes to the side which suffered a midweek defeat to Shrewsbury Town with midfielder Sam Mantom and top goalscorer Stephen Humphrys, who had previously scored three goals in two games, having to miss out due to illness.
In came the returning Mark Milligan and Charlie Kelman who both suffered injuries on international duty recently for Australia and U.S.A respectively with Brandon Goodship moving into a central position alongside Simon Cox, who got off the mark with his first goal against Shrewsbury on Tuesday night.
And Kelman’s introduction was a significant one, as he got Blues off to a brilliant start, opening the scoring inside four minutes.
It was a fantastic flowing move which started with an incisive pass from Milligan from midfield into the feet of the youngster. Kelman’s first time lay-off to Cox was a good one and he then played in Goodship. The summer signing was denied a shot at goal, however it came to Kelman who had two bites at the cherry to opening the scoring, doing so successfully by passing the ball into the open net vacated by Lee Nicholls.
Blues steadied the ship after going in front but slowly Paul Tisdale’s side began to take control of possession, without really testing Mark Oxley in the Southend goal though.
Dean Lewington had a shot blocked behind by Kiernan for a corner which came to nothing, while up the other end Goodship had a difficult chance after a good save from Nicholls on the half hour mark. It came initially from Cox trying his luck from 25 yards out which stung the hands of the Dons shot-stopper and Goodship blasted over the rebound.
MK Dons finished the half the stronger and they went close just before the interval as Conor McGrandles’ long range strike was just over the crossbar, but for only the second time this season Blues went in at the break with the lead.
Blues were forced into a change at half-time as McLaughlin was forced off with an injury. He was replaced by Isaac Hutchinson, while MK Dons made a change of their own, this one tactical as Kieran Agard replaced Jordan Houghton.
And the Dons striker was lively with his pace and trickery and looking a threat to the Blues defence, who were having to soak up a lot of pressure at the start of the second half.
Despite the long periods of pressure there wasn’t much in the way of clear cut chances being carved open by the home side.
Waddock brought on Luke Hyam for Hamilton and then John White for Goodship in a move which saw Blues go to five at the back for the remaining 20 minutes of the encounter.
Kasumu’s shot was really well blocked by Lennon and then up the other end on the counter-attack Hutchinson’s shot was sliced wide from 18 yards out.
That was to be a blue-print for the closing stages of the game as bodies were getting thrown in the way of shots from Southend defenders, while the only chances on the MK Dons goal came from breakaways.
It was almost two from a scenario just like, but not before Nathan Ralph did excellently at one end to block a goal-bound effort to keep the score at 1-0. Shortly afterwards Cox had an effort rattle back off the post and then Hutchinson's shot deflected over.
But Blues hung on and deservedly so to claim their first win of the campaign.
MK Dons XI: Nicholls, Lewington (C) (Dickenson 65'), Walsh, Poole, Martin, McGrandles, Houghton (Agard 46'), Brittain, Boateng (Gilbey 78'), Nombe, Kasumu.
Subs Not Used: Moore, Williams, Bowery, Harley.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (C), Cox, McLaughlin (Hutchinson 46'), Goodship (White 69'), Kiernan, Hamilton (Hyam 65'), Kelman, Lennon.
Subs Not Used: Bishop, Ndukwu, Shaughnessy, Blackman, White.
Referee: Antony Coggins
Assistants: Marvyn Amphlett, Lisa Rashid
Fourth Official: Mike Desborough
Southend United: Charlie Kelman
MK Dons: Poole
Southend United: McLaughlin, Hamilton, Milligan, Cox, Lennon
Attendance: 7,496 (623 away)