Southend United 2 Oxford United 1: Two Shrimpers strikes in the last few minutes before the break was enough to overturn the U's one goal lead and see the hosts into the top ten.
As expected Blues boss Paul Sturrock made one change to his starting line-up, top goalscorer Barry Corr returned upfront, while Bilel Mohsni everting to his usual centre-back position as Graham Coughlan was ruled out with a hamstring problem.
Rhys Evans got the nod over fit again Glenn Morris between the sticks, the latter warming the bench.
The S24 Preview Monday: Shrimpers to pinch it, 2-1! Mohsni winner from a corner in stoppage time; no, it can't happen.
It did, sort of. I didn't say which stoppage time! Hope you gamblers took advantage of the exclusive tip, the Shrewsbury result will be given Thursday!
This was a game of one half as the second will only take up a few lines, and most of them about the Oxford bloke seeng red, one of the most brainless tackles of all time, just after his manger had sent on three subs, brilliant.
As it was, Southend should have taken the lead in the first couple of minutes, a fine Ryan Hall free-kick found Barry Corr unmarked in the six yard box but his poor connection allowed the ball to go wide.
Then it was Blair Surrock's turn to fire over, followed by Sean Clohessy, the chances were coming, but not being taken.
Oxford though were passing around well and you felt they could be a danger if the Blues let them create something, and a needless free-kick given away did just that on 14 minutes.
Jake Wright placed the ball in the danger area, former trailist Harry Worley nodded on for James Constable, the S24 U's player to watch, you really should read my previews, save you buying the Echo, who struck the ball perfectly past Evans whose absent defence had given him no chance.
And Constable could have doubled the lead but placed the ball wide from close in after good work by Damien Batt.
However, you never felt the game was going away from Southend and soon to be man-of-the match Hall, his fourth S24 award in six games, struck the first of many shots from long range, most going well wide, but one didn't!
Then on 23 minutes a turning point. Constable again headed downward's from an accurate Paul McClaren corner, the ball bounced up of the pitch and surprised everyone by coming back off the crossbar. The home side cleared the danger.
Back up the other end, Son of Luggy, a good game overall, but he should have done better when missing the target from only eight yards out.
So let the fun began. 43 minutes and Ryan Hall, who had been threatning to do the business, teed up the ball on the edge of the box, just right for the talented winger to bury the ball brilliantly wide of Oxford keeper Ryan Clarke's dispairing dive, his third goal in five games.
Deserved equaliser we thought as the only decision left was coffee or Bovril during the half-time break.
Hang on, with that French Tunisian bloke on the pitch wait to the final whistle, this is a player that makes things happen, and usually does!
Moving into stoppage time Hall's left wing corner was headed on to the crossbar by a rocket Peter Gilbert header; shit, the chance gone; no way, the rebound found the lurking Bilel Mohsni who nearly broke the net as he volleyed home for his fourth goal in his last four matches, who needs to play up front!
The U's were floored by that two-punch knockout and lucky the santuary of the changing room was found or surely the Shrimpers would have finished the game off given some more time.
Certainly the infringment count rose in the second period, as the fussy referee Keith Hill got the chance to stick his oar in slowing the pace of the game to a snail's pace.
So it was not a total surprise when on 66 minutes right back Batt, who will not be seen on Mastermind anytime soon, decided to go for everybody's favourite target Anthony Grant, who had a strange game but overall effective, by trying to break his leg, a stupid and reckless tackle that deserved the straight red shown by Hill.
Gilbert himself grabbed a yellow when Hill decided he was wasting time over a throw in, when in fact he was waiting to be substituted for Johnny Herd, so possibily an injury doubt for the weekend.
On came Harry Crawford for Sturrock, and Lee Sawyer for Ryan Hall, as much to kill time as for anything tactical, and to Oxford's credit they did try and come forward at the end even with the one man disadvantage, forcing three quick corners in succession, and helped by Hill finding five minutes of injury time at the end.
There could have been a case for Corr coming off whose body language was poor towards the end, hope he was carrying a knock, or Luggy should have a word.
Anyway, the Blues held out to take the three points that sees them in ninth position and leapfrog the university town, only two points from the play-off zone.
Bring on Saturday, bring on the super Shrimpers, bring on Shrewsbury!
Southend Player Markings: Evans - 6, Clohessy - 6, Barker - 7 (Herd 78 - 6), Mohsni - 8, Gilbert - 7, Ferdinand - 7, Grant - 7, Easton - 7, Hall - 9 (Sawyer - 91), Sturrock - 7 (Crawford - 87), Corr - 6.
Referee: Mr. K. Hill - 6.
|Npower League Two, Tuesday, 1st February 2011 @ 19:45|
|Southend Utd. Cards|
|Barker||754TD> ||Unsporting behaviour|
|Bilel||814TD> ||Unsporting behaviour|
|Oxford Utd. Cards|
|Hall||294TD> ||Unsporting behaviour|
|Worley||654TD> ||Unsporting behaviour|
|Batt||674TD> ||Violent conduct|
|Constable||754TD> ||Unsporting behaviour|