GAVIN Tomlin’s late strike handed Southend United a hard fought 1-0 at play off rivals Chesterfield this afternoon.

The hard-working striker chipped the ball past the advancing Spireites goalkeeper Tommy Lee with just seven minutes of the match remaining.

And the effort was enough to fire Blues back to winning ways.

Tomlin had earlier gone close to giving Paul Sturrock’s side the lead in just the fourth minute but his close range effort was blocked by the legs of Lee.

Chesterfield, who had not lost at home since October, began to get back in to the game and, in the 41st minute, striker Marc Richards slammed a 30 yard free kick against the underside of the crossbar.

Richards then another set play parried away by Smith and Chesterfield remained on top at the start of the second half.

Neal Trotman had a six yard shot blocked by Smith who then also smothered a low shot from Nathan Smith at his near post.

But, having withstood the spell of pressure, Blues hit back to score the only goal of the game in the 83rd minute when Michael Timlin played in Tomlin down the left hand side.

The forward then charged in to the penalty area and fired past the advancing Lee for his 15th goal of the season.

Chesterfield replied and came close to netting a late equaliser when Conor Townsend’s saw his 20 yard volley impressively pushed to safety by Smith as Southend moved back in to the play off positions.