Southend United made it three wins in a row on Tuesday night as Jack Bridge’s 77th minute header proved to be the vital difference between Kevin Maher's side and Boreham Wood at Roots Hall.
Buoyed by victories against Barnet and Halifax, the Shrimpers came out fighting and had numerous chances to win the game in the first half, but after some astute defending from the visitors, the two sides remained level at half time.
It didn’t seem to be Blues’ night as they again continued to trouble Wood’s defence before finally managing to break the deadlock in the 77th minute, with Jack Bridge getting on the end of a brilliant Jason Demetriou cross on the counter attack. The win meant Blues secured their first victory against Boreham Wood since 1973, a 3-0 victory in the FA Cup.
There was little between the two sides in the opening stages of the game, with Harry Cardwell having the first opportunity to open the scoring, but his header from a Jason Demetriou cross was easily held by Nathan Ashmore in the eighth minute. The former Scottish u-20 International again had a chance to put Blues in front but his free kick from the edge of the area again drew a save from Ashmore, who gathered at the second attempt.
Blues, who were forced into two changes from Saturday’s 1-0 victory against Halifax Town, again came closest to opening the scoring in the 24th minute when defender Shaun Hobson was found in space from Cardwell’s knock down, but the 24-year-old saw his volley drift agonisingly wide of the post.
The visitors came to Roots Hall looking to build on from their 2-0 derby win against Bromley on Saturday, and almost did just that in the 35th minute when Dennon Lewis was found in acres of space on the edge of Blues’ box, but his tame effort was well-held by Steve Arnold in goal.
Blues were in search of their third win on the spin and were undeterred in their efforts as they again came forward in the 36th minute, this time Leon Davies’ in-swinning cross found Jason Demetriou who sent his diving header into the side netting. Blues again charged forward from the restart though as Cardwell twisted and turned into space before seeing his drilled effort travel just wide of the post.
Southend started the second half brightly and charged forward immediately when midfielder Bridge drew a foul from Gus Mafuta, who saw him pick up the first yellow of the evening from referee Scott Tallis.
Boreham Wood would not be a side to roll over, as despite their poor form Luke Garrard’s men still remain optimistic of securing their place in the play-offs for the third time since 2018. Top goalscorer Scott Boden sent his striking partner Tyrone Marsh through on goal in the 49th minute but the forward struggled to keep his effort under the bar.
Blues forward Cardwell would’ve been disappointed not to have scored in the first half and the forward again saw himself involved in the action when he was shown a yellow card in the 54th minute for a foul which left Will Evans needing a moment to recover. The Blues attacker was joined in the referee’s book just minutes later by James Dunne when the midfielder was also shown a yellow card for a foul.
Boreham Wood were looking to secure the league double against Blues, having won the reverse leg 1-0 in October at Meadow Park, and looked to ignite some life into the game when they made the first substitution of the evening in the 62nd minute when Danilo Orsi-Dadomo replaced Adrian Clifton.
The substitution did little to help The Wood, however, and the visitors almost found themselves a goal down in the 67th minute when loanee Harrison Neal’s drilled shot was deflected by Jamal Fyfield into the path of Bridge who couldn’t take advantage of a wrong-footed Ashmore as he also saw his effort blocked by Fyfield.
Boreham Wood defender David Stephens had a fantastic chance to put his side ahead in the 76th minute but failed to make a connection with the ball. The defender was punished for not taking his chance when, from the resulting counter attack, Blues were put 1-0 up from a diving header from Bridge after a perfect cross from full-back Jason Demetriou.
Frustrations seemed to get the better of Boreham Wood and on the 81st minute substitute Orsi-Dadomo saw himself booked for a foul before Blues again charged forward through Harry Cardwell. It didn’t seem to be the striker’s night though as he was again denied, this time by the post.
Goalscorer Bridge then left the pitch in the 88th minute to a standing ovation from the 4,652 Blues fans in attendance before Fyfield earned himself a yellow card on what proved to be a frustrating evening for Boreham Wood, as the referee put an end to the visiting side’s miseries by blowing for full time.
Southend United will be looking to make it four straight victories on Saturday 30th April when they make the long trip to North Wales against a Wrexham side vying for automatic promotion. Kick-off at the Racecourse is 3:00pm.
Blues XI: Arnold, Davies, Hobson, Kensdale, Gubbins, Demetriou (C), Neal, Dunne, Bridge (Gard 88’), Dalby, Cardwell. Not Used: Andeng Ndi, Powell, Wood, Dennis
Boreham Wood XI: Ashmore, Ricketts (C), Evans, Stephens, Mafuta, Boden, Marsh, Fyfield, Clifton (Orsi-Dadomo 61’), Lewis, Mendy. Not Used: Ashby-Hammond, Comley, Smith.
Referee: Scott Tallis
Assistants: David Harrison & Shaun Barry
Fourth Official: Nathan Oakes
Southend United: Jack Bridge 77’
Boreham Wood: None
Southend United: Harry Cardwell 54’, James Dunne 57’
Boreham Wood: Gus Mafuta 47’, Danilo Orsi-Dadomo 81’, Jamal Fyfield 90’
Attendance: 4,726 (74)