Interim Head Coach Jason Demetriou led his Southend United side to a 4-1 victory in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round at Roots Hall this afternoon, Pitching in Isthmian League South Central outfit Chertsey Town the opposition.
It was the part-time side who opened the scoring, brother of player-manager Casey Maclaren heading in six minutes into the tie.
However, The Blues successfully completed their comeback with Nathan Ferguson and Rhys Murphy converting in the first half, before a second half double by Nathan Ralph and Louis Walsh, the latter scoring his first goal in Southend colours.
The game could not have started in worse fashion for The Blues, as Casey Maclaren headed the eighth-tier side ahead six minutes in.
Lewis Jackson’s long-throw was glanced on by the 34-year-old, it bounced away from the grasp of Harry Seaden and into the net, sending the 237 Chertsey fans wild in the stand just behind.
And just three minutes later, The Curfews nearly doubled their lead.
Jackson once again the supplier as his delightful cross landed onto the head of Jake Baxter uncontested, but he could only nod his effort wide.
For all their early pressure, Kevin Maclaren’s side could not capitalise, and The Shrimpers put pay to that as Ferguson volleyed home an equaliser in the 14th minute.
A teasing free kick was whipped in by Harry Phillips allowing Ferguson to tap home past Nicholas Jupp, securing his second goal from his last three matches.
The East Stand of Roots Hall erupted momentarily nine minutes later, as Sam Dalby headed home a Terrell Egbri cross, however, the latter’s cross was adjudged to have left the field of play thus ruling the goal out.
But the Blues fans’ celebrations were not cut short in the 34th minute as Demetriou’s side took the lead.
Bridge charged superbly down the left-flank, getting the better of full-back Jackson both with pace and strength as he raced into the box and set up Murphy for a chance he simply couldn’t miss, the striker tapped home into the vacated net for his fourth goal of the season.
The two sides went into the half-time break with the hosts having recovered from the strike they suffered early on.
After a battling opening to the second half, the hosts were first to force the opposing keeper into their first bit of second-half action 15 minutes in, Dalby’s strike from a tight angle was smartly saved by Jupp.
Just a minute later, The Blues were inches from extending their lead, Will Atkinson stuttered in the box and failed to pull the trigger, but Ferguson pounced upon a loose ball out of defence.
He charged into the box and fired a powerful left-footed effort just wide.
On the hunt for a goal to further their lead, Southend again went forward as Murphy struck from 20 yards out, but his effort flew just over.
The away side did forge an attack through Demetriou’s side’s dominance, in the 70th minute, substitute Ethan Etukudo’s finishing let him down as he received the ball in a central position in The Blues’ box, but his shot was collected by Seaden with ease.
And that proved costly for Maclaren’s side, as The Shrimpers notched their third of the afternoon just two minutes later, Nathan Ralph heading home impressively.
A superb corner delivered by Bridge was placed straight onto the head of the fullback, who seemed to remain in the air for an age, and his nodded effort flew past Jupp to give The Blues some breathing room.
Five minutes before the end, substitute Walsh scored his first ever Southend goal.
He charged forward leaving The Curfews’ backline in his wake, before cutting inside and slotting a comfortable finish into the middle of the goal, past the outrushing Jupp.
And as the lead became comfortable with the home side expressing themselves on the ball, they nearly netted a fifth in eye-catching style, as Phillips fired a curling effort towards the left-corner, but Jupp dived to thwart the effort.
The 4-1 socreline remained as Callum Walchester blew for full-time at Roots Hall, a valiant effort by the visiting part-time side but ultimately the quality of the National League outfit shone through.
Southend XI: Seaden, Howard, Ralph, Bridge, Dunne, Murphy (Rush 85’), Dalby (Kargbo 89’), Egbri (Walsh 81’), Ferguson, Phillips, Atkinson.
Chertsey XI: Jupp, Jackson, Welch-Turner, K.Maclaren (Etukudo 70’), Harrison, Gasson, Abisogun (Halsey 81’), Lodge, Baxter, Crossley, C.Maclaren (Murphy 43’).
Referee: Callum Walchester
Assistants: Stephen Parkinson and Thomas Kelly
Fourth Official: Jack Bloxham
Southend United: Ferguson (14’) Murphy (34’) Ralph (72’) Walsh (85’)
Chertsey Town: C.Maclaren (6’)
Southend United: None
Chertsey Town: None
Attendance: 2307 (214 away)