Southend United came out on top of a topsy-turvy game against Woking at the Laithwaite Community Stadium as Blues picked up their fourth straight win with a 3-2 victory.
Kevin Maher’s side came flying out of the blocks with two goals in the opening 11 minutes in Surrey with Jason Demetriou tapping in after an error from Mark Smith before Callum Powell fired in at the near post to put Southend 2-0 up early on.
Woking though pipped Blues back early after the restart with Inih Effiong scoring twice, one a deflected effort from the edge of the box before levelling up from the penalty spot.
Blues though showed bundles of character to right to ship and come up with a winner with 14 minutes remaining as Harry Cardwell nodded in, getting on the end of Tom Clifford’s cross to win it for Southend.
Three months ago when Woking came away from Roots Hall with a 2-0 win to go 10 points above Blues in the table, few would have believed that the next time the two sides came up against each other, Southend would be three points above the Cards.
But an incredible run of form for Kevin Maher’s side has seen them hurtle up the National League table and the in-form Blues continued that forward momentum by making a lightning start to proceedings at the Laithwaite Community Stadium scoring twice in the opening 11 minutes.
In front of the BT Sport cameras, Southend broke the deadlock in the eighth minute after Callum Powell – in for the injured Matthew Dennis – saw his low shot spilt by goalkeeper Mark Smith, falling straight to the feet of Jason Demetriou to tap in from close range.
Blues’ travelling fans were still celebrating the opener when Powell got himself on the scoresheet three minutes later. After playing in Sam Dalby, the Southend striker’s effort was blocked out to Powell who found the narrowest of gaps to beat Smith at his near post to make it 2-0.
The visitors had stunned their hosts and remained the dominant force in the first 45 minutes with Dalby and Harry Cardwell seeing headed efforts come and go, while the best Woking could come up with was a weak effort from Louie Annesley that was easily held by Steve Arnold.
Cards boss Alan Dowson, clearly upset by his side’s first half display, made a double change at the interval with Tarryn Allarakhia and Jermaine Anderson coming on, and it had the desired effect as within 15 minutes of the restart the home side had turned things around to be level.
Woking reduced the arrears just two minutes after the break when the ball fell kindly to Inih Effiong on the edge of the penalty area. The intimidating number nine struck his effort first-time, seeing it take a deflection to loop over Arnold.
Effiong then had the opportunity to level from the penalty spot when his low ball across the face of goal towards sub Allarakhia drew a foul out of Shaun Hobson, with referee Elliott Swallow pointing to the spot. Effiong stepped up to fire down the middle and bring the two sides level.
Blues needed to make a change to stop the Woking pressure, so in came Harrison Neal to sure up the midfield, and the change allowed Southend to get a stranglehold in the game again with the contest taking yet another turn with 14 minutes remaining as Blues retook the lead.
After finding space out on the left, Tom Clifford whipped a ball in towards the far post, finding the head of Cardwell whose header beat Smith at his near post and put Southend back in front with a little under a quarter of an hour to go in this topsy-turvy clash.
Blues had a chance to take the sting out of the final moments when Noor Husin broke through and struck the foot of the post with a few minutes remaining, but it wasn’t to matter as Southend picked up another three points to climb to 12th in the table.
Woking XI: Smith, Lofthouse, Casey (C), Diarra, Nwabuokei (Anderson 46’), Effiong, Johnson, Annesley, Kabamba (Loza 78’), Roles (Allarakhia 46’), Ince. Subs Not Used: Ross, Champion
Blues XI: Arnold, Ralph, Hobson, Dalby, Powell (Neal 69’), Clifford, Atkinson (Dunne 89’), Lopata, Demetriou (Davies 83’), Husin, Cardwell. Subs Not Used: Bridge, Kensdale
Referee: Elliott Swallow
Assistants: Gary Jerden & Matt Eva
Fourth Official: Jack Packman
Woking: Inih Effiong 47’, (p)59’
Southend United: Jason Demetriou 8’, Callum Powell 11’, Harry Cardwell 76’
Woking: Louie Annesley 90+1’
Southend United: Nathan Ralph 71’, Harrison Neal 90+3’
Attendance: 3,819 (1,059 Away)