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Southend & Benfleet stay in the title chase after Bryant's late winner
A DRAMATIC late winner kept Southend & Benfleet in the Essex Division One title hunt as they enjoyed a 2-1 win at Old De Ferrians.
Captain Nicola Bryant turned the ball home in the dying seconds to keep the Seasiders in second and just behind Waltham Forest II on goal-difference.
Southend dominated from the off and mounted continued attacks, with quick passing from Nicola Coleman allowing them to dominate the play.
But they had to wait until the stroke of half-time to take the lead as Rachel Jeffery found herself on the end of a perfect cross and tapped the ball past the home keeper.
They continued to press after the break and were awarded plenty of short corners, but the second goal proved elusive.
The few attacks the home side did manage were quick breakaways up the wings but were soon closed down by diligent defending by Bex Utton, Nina Dabbs and Jodie Linge.
And midway through the second half, the hosts were awarded a penalty flick which saw them equalise.
Claire King and Lora Sharples went close to restoring Southend’s lead but were thwarted by the home side’s smart and gutsy goalie, who closed down well when her defenders failed her.
But the visitors were not to be denied and they claimed all three points when Brant slipped the ball home at the death.
The player of the match award was shared between Nicola Coleman, Hayley Middleton and captain Nicola Bryant.
Southend return to action with a trip to Havering II on Saturday.
But it was defeat for Southend & Benfleet’s second team as they went down 2-0 at home to Essex Division Four leaders Chelmsford IV on a wet day at King Edmund School in Hockley.
It was Southend’s II’s first defeat of the season but they will take comfort in the fact that many of the opposing players were competing in division two last year.
They will look to bounce back when they host Harlow II on Saturday.