Report: Exeter City 3 Southend Utd 0
Exeter City finally put paid to a miserable run of home results with an excellent 3-0 win at St James Park against Southend.
After a nervy first half, John O’Flynn’s excellent finish on the stroke of the interval gave the Grecians something of a fortuitous lead.
However the Grecians were rampant in the second period, forcing the visitors into plenty of errors and disrupting any element of fluency they had. Scot Bennett’s header gave City a cushion and O’Flynn’s late strike put the seal on an excellent victory in front of the home fans.
City boss Paul Tisdale made one alteration to his starting line-up following the 2-1 win against York the previous weekend. Arron Davies was recalled into the side in place of Tommy Doherty, who took a seat on the bench. New signing Myles Anderson was named amongst the subs, alongside Jake Gosling following the completion of his loan spell at Dorchester.
Former City man Barry Corr, who scored the equaliser for the Shrimpers when the sides met at Roots Hall earlier this season, was named amongst the starting XI for Southend.
Southend certainly started the brighter and were playing high up the field. Corr saw space opening ahead of him and shot from 30 yards, but captain Danny Coles put in a firm block.
But City eased themselves into the tie shortly after when Jimmy Keohane went on a trademark lung-busting run towards the block. He fed Davies on the left who cut in to shoot on his right-foot, but a deflection took all the sting out of the effort and allowed Paul Smith to collect.
From a similar position Alan Gow made headway towards the box and, with magical feet, drew a foul from Mark Phillips just outside the box. The dead-ball was ideally-placed for a left-footer, but the Scotsman curled the ball over.
Typically tireless, John O’Flynn pressured Phillips into a mistake near the halfway line and put himself in on goal. With little other option, he struck goalwards from a tight angle but Smith had his near post covered.
Coles was left breathing a sigh of relief when a bouncing ball cleared his head, allowing Gavin Tomlin a route to goal. Cutting inside from the right flank, his left-footed effort took a nick off Craig Woodman on its way for a corner.
The fans in the Big Bank thought City had taken the lead midway through a stodgy first half when Bennett put the ball in, but the flag had already been raised by the assistant for an offside.
Keohane had a couple of efforts in quick succession for City – the first on the half-volley after Davies’ nod-down which cleared the bar, and the second after Matt Oakley’s lay-off but it was straight at Smith.
Marc Laird had tried to play on after taking a knock, but eventually he was withdrawn just after the half-hour mark to be replaced by David Martin.
The travelling Shrimpers in the St James Road Terrace were appealing as they thought the ball had crossed the line when Corr rose highest to nod against the bar, but the ball was judged to have bounced on the right side of the line as far as the home fans were concerned, and Scot Bennett hooked clear.
Instead, it was City who took the lead just before the 45-minute mark. O’Flynn peeled off towards the right to be laid in by Gow. He steadied himself and struck across the face of goal, and the ball nestled into the net via the far post to send the Big Bank into raptures.
Half-time: Exeter City 1 Southend United 0
The second half was brought to a halt almost as soon as it had begun, as Corr went down early with a head injury. However he recovered quickly and brushed himself down to continue.
Gow will have felt that he may have done better with an effort early in the second period, as the ball bounced back kindly to him after he tried to lay in O’Flynn. After dancing around the defenders, he there was little conviction in his effort as it trickled wide of the far post.
A slick volley by Sean Clohessy in the right-hand channel found the run of Tomlin ideally, and Coles just about intercepted to guide the effort away from the frame of goal and behind for a corner.
Gow’s trickery between the lines was causing all sorts of problems for the Shrimpers. Michael Timlin, Alex Woodyard and David Martin all earned booking in relatively quick succession for a variety of fouls on the Scotsman.
And he was withdrawn soon after and replaced by Kevin Amankwaah, as Tisdale looked to make a tactical switch. Davies had previously been withdrawn for Doherty.
Shortly after, City opened a wider margin through Scot Bennett. After Ryan Cresswell – who had been solid all game in the Southend defence – gave away a needless corner, which Oakley swung in from the left. At the back, Bennett’s header looped to the far post and crept past Smith to earn the Grecians a two-goal lead.
City put the nail in the coffin soon after when Keohane escaped clear with a route to goal. When it looked all the world as though he was set to shoot, he instead laid in O’Flynn who was even better placed to hook the ball into the net, for an exceptional 3-0.
With the clock running down, Gosling was handed his league debut for the Grecians when he replaced Steve Tully in the closing moments.
The youngster had a sight of goal before the final whistle but his shot went awry, clearing the crossbar.
It mattered little though, as the Grecians held on for a much-needed home win and a superb three points.
Full-time: Exeter City 3 Southend United 0
Exeter City: Krysiak; Tully (Gosling 89), Baldwin, Coles, Woodman; Oakley, Bennett, Davies (Doherty 74); Keohane, Gow (Amankwaah 78); O’Flynn.
Subs (not used): Evans, Anderson, Reid, Moore-Taylor.
Goals: O’Flynn (43, 87), Bennett (80).
Southend United: Smith; Clohessy, Phillips, Cresswell, Barker; Hurst, Woodyard (Benyon 67), Laird (Martin 31), Timlin; Tomlin, Corr (Harris 89).
Subs (not used): Straker, Prosser, Bentley, Leonard.
Attendance: 3,971 (293 away)
Referee: R. East