James Olayinka’s first goal at Roots Hall secured Blues a vital 1-0 win against Scunthorpe in front of 2,000 returning Southend fans.
In an even game in which Southend had had the better of, Olayinka popped up with 10 minutes remaining to convert a Jason Demetriou cross, firing low and hard passed Mark Howard to put Blues on the cusp of their first home win of the season.
Scunthorpe rallied and had three good chances go begging in the final moments with Aaron Jarvis hitting the top of the crossbar, Jordan Hallam having a shot deflected wide and Jacob Bedeau heading over when he arguably should have scored.
The 2,000 in attendance became the 12th man that Mark Molesley had asked for in the lead up to the game as Southend held on to keep their second successive clean sheet and earn a huge three points in their battle at the bottom.
280 days removed from Southend’s 3-1 win against Bristol Rovers in March, fans were once again in attendance at Roots Hall as 2,000 fans made their long-awaited return, and those in attendance were treated to a surprise as Simeon Akinola and Sam Hart were named in the starting line-up.
Both had been on the books at Southend for weeks but were unable to be registered while the club were under an embargo, but that was lifted in time for the two to come into the side as they replaced Richard Taylor and Brandon Goodship.
Those fortunate enough to be at Roots Hall greeted the players with rapturous applause and got behind the side right from the very first minute, though neither side caused much of a threat in the opening quarter of the game.
Timothee Dieng had the afternoon’s first effort on target with a header that lacked the power needed to trouble the Scunthorpe goalkeeper, just before James Olayinka’s mazy run almost set Emile Acquah through but his through ball was just overcooked.
Alan McCormack then received the ball 20 yards from goal and fired an effort harmlessly over the crossbar before Scunthorpe went within the width of the post from breaking the deadlock when John McAtee thundered a shot from 25-yards off Mark Oxley’s left-hand upright.
The second-half followed the same pattern as the first with both sides finding it difficult to carve out any clear openings, and as the hour mark ticked by Mark Molesley and Neil Cox went to their benches as Devarn Green came on for The Iron while Akinola was replaced by Kyle Taylor.
Southend had the better of the few chances that were created with Tom Clifford firing a free-kick straight at Mark Howard. Olayinka then went on another run into the box only for his shot the be blocked, with his ball falling to McCormack who then fired wide.
But with 10 minutes remaining in the game, Blues made the breakthrough they so desperately wanted as Olayinka scored his first goal at Roots Hall. The on-loan Arsenal man was picked out by a low ball in by Jason Demetriou before firing low beyond Howard to put Southend in front.
With Blues now on the brink of a first home win of the season, Molesley’s side naturally sat back and were fortunate not to concede an equaliser just minutes after going in front when Jai Rowe’s cross picked out the head of Aaron Jarvis who clipped the crossbar with his header.
Molesley said in the build-up to the game that the 2,000 Blues fans could be Southend’s 12th man and they certainly were as Scunthorpe twice went close to scoring an equaliser with Jordan Hallam having a shot deflected wide before Jacob Bedeau headed over an Abo Eisa cross.
Five minutes of added on time were shown as the noise from the crowd grew louder and louder to see Blues over the finishing line as Southend held their nerve to pick up all three points ahead of another huge home game against Grimsby Town in midweek.
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, McCormack, Hobson, Olayinka (Goodship 88’), Dieng, Akinola (K Taylor 62’), Clifford, Acquah (R Taylor 88’), Demetriou (C), Hart (Egbri 78’). Subs Not Used: Seaden, Klass, Kyprianou
Scunthorpe United XI: Howard, Bedeau, Onariase, Gillead (C) (Green 57’), Loft (Jarvis 78’), Eisa, Spence (Hallam 85’), Beestin, Rowe, O’Malley, McAtee (Taylor 78’). Subs Not Used: Watson, Hippolyte, Cordner
Referee: Stephen Martin
Assistants: Nigel Lugg & Carl Fitch-Jackson
Fourth Official: Sam Lewis
Southend United: James Olayinka 80’
Scunthorpe United: None
Southend United: None
Scunthorpe United: None