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Oxford United 0, Southend United 2
SOUTHEND United upset the form guide to return to winning ways at Oxford United this afternoon.
The Shrimpers headed in to the clash at the Kassam Stadium on the back of six matches without a victory.
But first half goals from Conor Clifford and Luke Prosser secured Phil Brown’s a 2-0 victory at the second placed U’s.
Despite the final score-line, Oxford went close in the opening exchanges with Deane Smalley firing just wide of the left post from a narrow angle before a long range effort from Dave Kitson flew inches wide of the opposite upright.
But, with 14 minutes on the clock, it was the Shrimpers who opened the scoring when a right wing cross from Ryan Leonard was poorly cleared by Asa Hall in to the path of the recalled Clifford who blasted a low, right foot shot from 20 yards in to the left hand side of the goal.
Moments later, Blues were screaming for a penalty when Barry Corr went down inside the area following a sliding challenge from Oxford skipper Johnny Mullins but referee Stephen Martin opted to wave play on.
In reply, Sean Rigg then fired over from 12 yards before Mullins’ firm header from Alfie Potter’s right wing cross was well saved by Daniel Bentley.
But, after surviving the scares, Blues hit back to double their lead on the half hour mark when a fantastic right wing cross from Kevan Hurst picked out an unmarked Prosser six yards from goal and he made no mistake with an accurate downward header.
With the Shrimpers remaining on top Corr, who was making his 100th appearance for the club, then had a goalbound effort blocked by Mullins.
At the start of the second half, Oxford attempted to hit back with Michael Raynes heading Alfie Potter’s left wing cross inches over the crossbar.
However, the Shrimpers were soon back on top with Hurst firing at Clarke from a narrow angle before the winger also had a well struck shot well saved by the Oxford goalkeeper after being teed up by Cauley Woodrow.
But Woodrow then wasted a superb chance to extend Blues’ lead as Will Atkinson’s through ball put the on loan Fulham youngster completely clean through on goal, but his low shot was blocked the legs of the advancing Clarke.
Woodrow then made way for Craig Reid in the 85th minute of the match before Anthony Straker also come on for Hurst as the Shrimpers slowed the game down in the closing stages to ensure they came out on top.