Nathan Ferguson’s first goal at Roots Hall earned Blues a valuable three points as they beat Eastleigh 1-0 this evening.
A Jack Bridge cross found its way out to the midfielder who took the ball down and thundered it into the roof of the net in the 69th minute to secure Southend their first win in the National League since the opening day of the season.
The Blues boss had shuffled his pack for the visit of the Spitfires, making no fewer than five changes following the defeat at Solihull as Nathan Ralph, Nathan Ferguson, Will Atkinson, Hamzad Kargbo and the surprise selection of Simeon Akinola all came into the starting line-up.
Eastleigh were unchanged from the weekend and both sides exchanged early chances with Danny Whitehall’s low ball into the box just missing the run of Ben House. Up the other end, the ball fell kindly to Kargbo inside the area and he forced a smart save out of goalkeeper Joe McDonnell.
The Spitfires spurned a couple of good headed opportunities with House failing to connect with a cross from the right before Joe Low had a free header inside the six-yard box from a Tom Whelan corner that he could only nod over the crossbar.
Ferguson stung the palms of McDonnell with a shot from outside the box midway through a first-half that would end goalless, but not without the same official it began with as referee Robert Whitton limped off on the stroke of half-time to be replaced by fourth official Christopher Hastings.
Blues had a flurry of chances after the break come and go after Bridge broke down the left. His cross narrowly missed the head of Kargbo before Shaun Hobson flashed his shot across the face of the goal with the ball rebounding out to Nathan Ralph whose effort was blocked.
Brown made a double change on the hour mark replacing his front two with Sam Dalby and Rhys Murphy, and the latter had a superb chance almost straight away after being picked out by Bridge on the edge of the box only for his strike to go just past the post.
Southend continued to apply the pressure and McDonnell had to be at his best to push away Dalby’s downward header but there was nothing he could do about Ferguson’s thunderbolt which put Blues in front with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
More direct running from Bridge down the left-hand channel allowed him to get a cross into the box that came out to Ferguson who had the time to tee the ball up and rocket it into the roof of the net to give Southend a priceless lead.
Eastleigh struggled to create anything in the way of a response as goalkeeper Steve Arnold remained largely untroubled in the Southend net, with Blues comfortably running out time to earn themselves a vital three points.
Blues XI: Arnold, Ralph, Hobson, Bridge, Dunne (C), Ferguson, Akinola (Dalby 60’), Atkinson, Sayers, Kargbo (Murphy 60’), Demetriou. Subs Not Used: Howard, Walsh, Kimpioka
Eastleigh XI: McDonnell, Hare, Kelly, Boyce, Pritchard, Hill (Hesketh 63’), Low, Whitehall (Barnett 63’), House (Smart 79’), Hollands (C), Whelan. Subs Not Used: Maghoma, Harper
Referee: R Whitton
Assistants: K Sear & J Aldous
Fourth Official: C Hastings
Southend United: Nathan Ferguson 69’
Southend United: Sam Dalby 90+7’
Eastleigh: Ryan Hill 58’, Tom Whelan 90+6’, Jake Hesketh 90+8’
Attendance: 3,349 (63 Away)