Date:Sunday April 29 2007
28 April 2007 3 pm
Luton finally managed an away win, their first since September and in the process also won for the first time under new manager Kevin Blackwell, and consigned the Shrimpers to League 1.
Roots Hall is a happy hunting ground for Luton over recent years, having not lost there in the league since 1994/5 season, and from the outset Southend looked jittery and the Hatters composed.
Blackwell somewhat surprisingly dropped Talbot to the bench, with Besian Idrazaj starting up front alongside Calvin Andrew.
Southend lost Freddy Eastwood and Mark Gower from their line up with back injuries, with Moussa and Foran coming in.
Despite the home side's nerves, Kevin Maher came closest to scoring in the early exchanges, driving over the bar from a good position, but David Bell was already causing the Shrimpers serious problems with his ball control and pace.
As early as the 12th minute, Bell went down the left flank, leaving Clarke in his wake to draw a good save from Flahavan in the home goal, and news circulated that Leeds were leading 1-0.
Eight minutes later, Leon Barnett cleared from a Southend corner and from midway in Luton's half, Bell collected the ball and went down the left again at pace and crossed to Calvin Andrew whose first touch betrayed his inexperience; but as Flahavan atempted to get to the ball, the Luton youngster poked the ball past him into the net.
Deja vu? Luton in front away from home? How long before they were 2-1 down?
The equaliser seemed assured within minutes when Francis struck a good shot, but Brill tipped the ball wide for a corner. Could this be our day?
Minutes later again, Hammell crossed into the box and it looked an easy catch for Brill but he mistimed his attempt and missed it completely leaving Foran to head into the empty net.... only he didn't - he headed over the bar from the edge of the six yard box. It looked like it really was our day at last!
Southend's most influential player so far, skipper Kevin Maher was forced to leave the field with an injury just after half an hour. It certainly did not appear to be Southend's day.
The home side were beginning to make a fight of it, and Hammell whipped in a free kick only to see Peter Clarke blaze over the bar when he should at least have tested Brill.
The ascendancy had changed now with Southend pressing harder, but as they committed more to attack, Luton suckered them on the break six minutes before half time.
A quick break down the left again by Bell, saw the former Rushden midfielder clip in a good cross. It was met by Barratt but his partial clearance fell to Spring.
The prodigal son controlled the loose ball on his chest and volleyed the ball powerfully into the net as he used to do in days gone by. It was his first goal since returning to Kenilworth Road and I hope the first of many more.
Luton came out for the second half with confidence and Bell continued to harrass the Shrimpers' defence, and almost put the game beyond the home side with a good shot, this time with his right foot, but he was thwarted by another good save from Flahavan, and after a clever free kick from the training ground saw Spring and Emanuel leave Bell with a shooting chance, Flahavan kept Souhend in the match again, denying Bell the goal he deserved for an all round excellent performance.
News that Hull had taken the lead at Cardiff did little for the home fans' heart rates and murmurs of frustration began to emanate from them with every misplaced pass.
Southend battled on gamely, though, and just after the hour, Francis got forward down the right and crossed for Barnett to half clear to McCormack, in a mirror image of the move which led to Spring's goal for the Town. However, the hapless Shrimper had neither Spring's poise nor accuracy and drove over the bar.
Minutes later, the home side's tenacity finally brought them a goal. Jamal Campbell-Ryce crossed from the by-line only to see Hammell's shot cleared off the line by Foley but Bradbury latched onto the loose ball and slid it into the net despite Coyne's brave effort to block it.
Surely Luton wouldn't blow a two goal lead? Well, when Coyne was clattered by Bradbury ending the Town skipper's involvement with ten minutes left, it was the Town's fans whose hearts were in their mouths, but with Heikkinen dropping back and Langley taking over the midfield role, surprisingly, Southend failed to trouble the Town, in fact there was time to score another to return to the comfort of a two goal lead.
Spring found Besian Idrazaj, who showed great poise to collect and drive the ball past Flahavan to seal the points.
There were some real positives from the performance, and the result which, as Blackwell said after the match, looked as though it had been coming since he took over.
Calvin Andrew is beginning to bring the sharpness he had in theyouth team to the first team arena, and Spring had his best game since he came back. Bell is looking awesome and if we can get that quality from him every week rather than 1 in 3, then there is the basis of a good squad to challenge for promotion next year.
However, while on paper the Luton defence looks all right, they still look likely to concede goals, and despite the good performance by Luton generally, if Southend's finishing had been even average we could have lost 4-3.
Date:Sunday April 29 2007
Hatters Sign Duo (Tuesday May 21 2013)
Hatters Sign Tigers Striker (Sunday May 19 2013)
Luton to Entertain Aston Villa (Friday May 17 2013)
Tyler`s Staying (Friday May 17 2013)
I Wish It Was Us! (Wednesday May 15 2013)
Favourites (Again)! (Monday May 13 2013)
Keeper Ranks Bolstered (Monday May 13 2013)
Nielson Finds New Club (Monday May 13 2013)
Welcome to the Mad World! (Monday May 13 2013)
I Felt Physically Sick! (Monday May 13 2013)
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