Southend United were handed a heavy 4-1 defeat by Notts County at Meadow Park this afternoon.
Sam Dalby put the visitors in front after 10 minutes, but a mistake at the back was punished by the home side who equalised through Cal Roberts just after the half-hour mark.
Wootton then popped up with two goals in seven second-half minutes to put the home side in charge before Kyle Cameron nodded in County’s fourth to secure the three points.
After a frustrating draw against Maidenhead in midweek, boss Kevin Maher rang the changes for the trip to high-flying Notts County with now fewer than four new faces coming into the starting 11 as John White, Tom Clifford, James Dunne and Lewis Gard came into the side.
The Magpies came into the game in the last of the play-off spots but were just four points adrift of table-topping Chesterfield and they forced an early save out of Steve Arnold after Kyle Wootton’s header on goal needed tipping over the crossbar.
And having survived that early scare, Blues would go on to take an early lead as Sam Dalby put Maher’s side in front. Nathan Ralph’s cross from the left fell found its way through to Rhys Murphy who teed up Dalby to slot home from close range to put Southend in front inside 10 minutes.
Southend’s defence remained relatively untroubled in the opening half an hour, but a mistake at the back allowed the Magpies back in the game as Wootton dispossessed Ralph on the byline before playing the ball across to Cal Roberts who calmly stroked in the equaliser.
As the rain hammered down in Nottinghamshire, Blues had a glorious chance to retake the lead midway through the second-half as Murphy’s cross caused a scramble inside the County box with the ball squirming out to Clifford who fired straight at the thankful Sam Slocombe.
It was a chance that Southend would rue missing as Notts piled the pressure on and would eventually break their way through as a slide-rule pass into Richardson unlocked the Southend defences and left the winger to play the ball across to Wootton for a tap-in.
That brought up double figures for Wootton this season and it wasn’t long before he’d grab his 11th of the campaign as he powered in Notts County’s third. Another pass between the lines allowed Wootton to get in on goal with his strike having too much power for Arnold to keep out.
To compound Southend’s misery, Jason Demetriou had to finish the game in goal for Blues after Arnold limped off. With no sub goalie on the bench, the Southend defender went in between the sticks and pulled off a smart save to keep out Connor Parsons.
There was nothing though Demetriou could do about County’s fourth of the afternoon as captain Kyle Cameron snuck in to head home a right-wing cross to wrap up the three points for the home side.
Notts County XI: Slocombe, Brindley, Taylor (Parsons 57’), Cameron (C), Wooton, Roberts (Francis 87’), Vincent (O’Brien 78’), Palmer, Rodrigues, Lacey, Richardson. Subs Not Used: Mitchell, Chicksen
Blues XI: Arnold (Atkinson 79’), Ralph, Hobson, Dunne, Murphy, Dalby, Clifford (Rush 77’), Gard (Ferguson 68’), Demetriou, Brunt, White (C). Subs Not Used: Egbri, Walsh
Referee: Garreth Rhodes
Assistants: Michael D’Aguilar & Reece Davies
Fourth Official: Ben Robinson
Notts County: Cal Roberts 31’, Kyle Wootton 64’, 71’, Kyle Cameron 89’
Southend United: Sam Dalby 10’
Notts County: Ruben Rodrigues 44’, Ed Francis 90+5’
Southend United: Nathan Ralph 62’, James Dunne 67’, Zak Brunt 90+4’
Attendance: 6,206 (894 Away)