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Southend United 1, Aldershot Town 2
STRUGGLING Aldershot Town ended a run of seven successive defeats by beating a below par Southend United 2-1 at Roots Hall tonight.
The Shots went in to the game without a win since mid-September.
But a late header from Sonny Bradley was enough to see Dean Holdsworth’s condemn Blues to a depressing reverse.
Southend cancelled out an early opener from Danny Hylton when Mark Phillips converted a second half header.
Paul Sturrock’s team then had a golden chance to take the lead in the 80th minute when substitute Freddy Eastwood had a penalty saved by Aldershot goalkeeper Jamie Young. And the Shots took full advantage, with Bradley heading in from close range.
The victory was well deserved too as Aldershot dominated the opening exchanges.
As a result, they took just 25 seconds to open the scoring, with Hylton on target.
The Shots winger jinked his way past a statuesque Blues back four and drilled a low, 12 yard shot in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
The visitors then almost doubled their lead two minutes later when Ben Herd’s deep free-kick picked out Peter Vincenti but the midfielder’s header was impressively saved by Southend goalkeeper Paul Smith.
Vincenti soon wasted an even clearer chance to score when he nodded Danny Rose’s left wing cross corner off target despite being left unmarked just six yards from goal.
In reply, Gavin Tomlin scuffed a 12 yard shot wide of the left post but Aldershot were soon back on top with Craig Reid working his way past Ryan Cresswell before being denied by Smith.
But, having survived the scares, Blues almost drew back level in the 40th minute when Tomlin teed up Kevan Hurst and his well struck 20 yard shot was impressively tipped over the crossbar by Aldershot goalkeeper Jamie Young.
In a bid to get back in to the game, Southend made the first substitution nine minutes in to the second half with Eastwood coming on to replacing the ineffective John Spicer.
Eastwood’s arrival was greeted by a huge cheer from the Blues supporters and, in the 59th minute, the substitute striker headed Sean Clohessy’s right wing cross straight at Young.
However, the Shots then came within a whisker of making it 2-0 when Rose’s right wing cross was flicked on by Troy Brown and Vincenti’s close range volley was brilliantly blocked by Smith.
The fine save immediately increased in significance too as Southend hit back to equalise in the 68th minute.
Good work from David Martin led to the ball being picked up on the left flank by Hurst and his superb inswinging cross was headed in to the top left hand corner of the net by Phillips at the near post.
But Blues almost went behind again in the 74th minute when Rose somehow fired wide of the right post from 12 yards when clean through on goal.
In response, Southend boss Paul Sturrock made his second change with Anthony Straker coming on for Phillips, who appeared to be in some discomfort as he came off the pitch.
And, shortly after the change, Blues wasted a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 80th minute, when Eastwood failed to convert a penalty.
Referee Darren Sheldrake pointed to the spot after adjudging Anthony Tonkin to have brought down Britt Assombalonga.
But Eastwood’s spot kick was poorly struck and was saved low down to right hand side by Young.
The Shots soon made the most of the left off too as Bradley bagged an 87th minute winner.
Rankine’s initial from Rose’s right wing corner was headed off the goal-line by Clohessy before Bradley nodded in from inside the six yard box to clinch an unlikely win.