Southend United’s FA Trophy debut was victorious, as they beat Dorking Wanderers 2-1 in the third round at Roots Hall.
After Alfie Rutherford converted just five minutes in to put the visitors ahead, the tie was set up as a potential upset.
But Kevin Maher’s side equalised shortly before the half time interval, Sam Dalby in the right place at the right time to tap home.
Making his first competitive start, Blues’ goalkeeper Collin Andeng Ndi fantastically saved Bobby-Joe Taylor’s penalty early in the second half to keep the game level, and substitute Matt Dennis’ spectacular strike 16 minutes before time saw the hosts in the hat for the fourth round.
Blues, keen to avoid an upset, endured a nightmare start as Rutherford put the visitors one head in the fifth minute.
The forward, who now has 13 goals this season, charged down Blues’ right, displayed good skill to cut the ball onto his right foot and fired a low, powerful effort past Collin Andeng Ndi.
And Marc White’s side almost doubled their lead three minutes later, Matt Briggs launched a marauding run down Blues’ left this time, he sent his effort rising over the grateful Andeng Ndi.
Wanderers started the game well and went close again in the 20th minute, James McShane diverted a low left-footed effort towards goal which the debuting Blues ‘keeper did well to push around the right post.
Despite their pressure, it looked as if Blues would level the game 10 minutes later when James Dunne was brought down for a penalty.
But Maher’s side’s top scorer Rhys Murphy blazed the spot kick well over Daniel Lincoln’s goal.
Blues were to find the goal that levelled the game, and it came four minutes before half-time.
A good spell from the hosts culminated in a charge forward which saw Zak Brunt’s excellent cross ping-pong in the visitors’ box, before Murphy fired a powerful effort which Lincoln fumbled into Dalby’s path, who fired home to net his sixth goal of the campaign.
Blues continued to push, and Dalby again had the ball in the back of the net two minutes later, but he was adjudged offside to send the sides in level at the interval.
The second half started much like the first with the visitors quick out the blocks, they earned a penalty nine minutes after the restart as Shaun Hobson brought down Josh Taylor.
However, on his first start, Andeng Ndi came to Blues’ rescue as he got down to his left and excellently kept out Bobby-Joe Taylor’s spot kick.
He was again called into action in the 69th minute as he held Rutherford’s volleyed effort well.
Neither side managed to hold a real grip on the game throughout the second half, but the hosts burst forward two minutes later and, with space just outside the box, Brunt floated an effort over.
And Maher’s side did manage to take the lead, 16 minutes before time.
Substitute Dennis cut inside from the left and curled a delightful effort over goalkeeper Lincoln and into the top corner from 25 yards out.
It was the Norwich City loanee’s first appearance since his short cameo away at Grimsby Town in November.
And he again went close three minutes after his goal, heading an effort which Lincoln had to scramble to collect.
The hosts, enjoying their best spell of the match, troubled Wanderers’ defence again two minutes later, but Brunt’s effort curled over.
White’s side threatened multiple times late on, and Blues last ditch defending saw them hold on to ensure their place in the next round of the FA Trophy.
Southend XI: Andeng Ndi, Ralph, Hobson, Dunne, Murphy (Dennis 66’), Dalby, Clifford, Ferguson, Gard (Walsh 45’), Demetriou, Brunt (Atkinson 82’).
Dorking XI: Lincoln, Taylor, McManus, Briggs, Rutherford, McShane (Prior 51’), Wills, Wheeler (Muitt 75’), Taylor, Moore, Gallagher.
Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis
Assistants: Jonathon Block & James Hurst
Fourth Official: Alexander Kyriacou
Southend United: Dalby (41’) (Dennis 74’)
Dorking: Rutherford (5’)
Southend United: Dunne (41') Demetriou (61’)
Attendance: 1728 (73 away)