Southend United were condemned to their first defeat of the 21/22 season this afternoon, as Phil Brown’s side narrowly lost 1-0 to Stockport County at Roots Hall in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Shrimpers fans flocked in good numbers back to Blues’ home ground for their side’s first home match of the season.
The visitors, however, were determined to ruin the day of the home crowd, and a tidy John Rooney finish went some way to doing just that, 15 minutes into the match.
The Blues, despite coming close on several occasions, couldn’t find an equaliser, and came away empty handed against a Stockport side that are tipped to be very successful this season.
The game began in a lively fashion, with the Hatters threatening Steve Arnold’s goal early on.
Blues’ goalkeeper was called into action just five minutes in, as a threatening long throw by the visitors was knocked down into the path of Arjan Raikhy. The 18-year-old, on loan from Aston Villa, caught the ball sweetly on the half-volley, but his effort was saved well by Arnold.
But the early pressure from the visitors told, 10 minutes later. Simon Rusk’s side went 1-0 up as John Rooney latched onto a poor clearance from the Southend defence. Having been given the freedom to burst into the home side’s penalty area, Rooney unleashed a tidy finish into the left corner of Arnold’s net.
Five minutes later, the visitors’ early substitute Alex Reid came agonisingly close to doubling his sides lead. The ball was played into the striker, who found himself in a central position in the penalty area, but his scuffed, left-footed effort was sent inches wide of the Blues’ goal.
It was certainly a case of Brown’s side needing to grow into the first half, and the momentum of the game began to switch to the home side’s favour on 31 minutes, Nathan Ferguson struck from 20 yards, but his effort didn’t trouble Ben Hinchliffe in the Stockport goal.
Southend had their best spell of the first half within the five minutes before it ended. Harry Phillips was the first to come close, as good work from Sam Dalby in the penalty area resulted in the striker laying the ball off to Phillips, he connected well with his close-range effort and it was well saved by Hinchliffe.
Two minutes later, Jason Demetriou saw himself 30 yards from goal and space to shoot, he pulled the trigger with a great effort, forcing Hinchliffe into action, pushing the ball wide of his left post.
Moments later, the Shrimpers again troubled Rusk’s side as a well worked move on the left flank saw a cross whipped into the box and onto the head of Rhys Murphy, who’s effort went narrowly over.
The opening action of the second half saw little in the way of chances, but the hosts were getting the better of their opponents in the midfield battle.
Jack Bridge nearly carved out a great opportunity for Brown’s side on the 60th minute, as a great show of skill saw him wriggle away from the Hatters’ defence. He whipped a cross into the box but it was well defended by the visitors, as they turned it away for a corner.
Goalscorer Rooney tried his luck from distance in the 75th minute, as he spotted Arnold off his line, the midfielder attempted to lob him from 30 yards out, but his shot went well over.
Two minutes later, Roots Hall erupted with cries for a penalty kick. A floated ball into the box looked set to meet Murphy, but he was dragged to the ground. The referee waved away the appeals for a spot kick.
As the game dwindled to a close, and Southend continued to push for a leveller, Murphy came close again. Demetriou attempted to worm the ball through a sea of bodies on the edge of Stockport’s penalty area, he eventually passed to Murphy on the edge of the box, his shot flying just wide.
Despite the hosts pushing for an equaliser, it never came, as Brown’s side were subdued to a narrow defeat.
Blues XI: Arnold, Ralph, Ogogo (Egbri 17’), Coulson, Bridge (Dennis 64’), Murphy, Dalby, Ferguson, Phillips (Kargbo 87’), Demetriou, White. Subs not used: Seaden, Hobson
Stockport County XI: Hinchliffe, Palmer, Barclay, Southam-Hales, Rooney (Whitfield 81’), Madden, Raikhy (Collar 55’), Keane, Rydel, Croasdale, Quigley (Reid 12’). Subs not used: Ethan, Pye
Referee: Lewis Smith.
Assistants: J.Oxenham & J.Fagg
Fourth Official: O.Mackey
Stockport County: Rooney (15’)
Southend United: Ogogo (14’) Ralph (52’)
Stockport County: Rydel (57’) Madden (66’) Croasdale (73’)