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Southend United 3, Mansfield Town 0
SOUTHEND United got back to winning ways with an eventful 3-0 triumph against Mansfield Town at Roots Hall tonight.
Both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half with visiting striker James Alabi and Blues midfielder Conor Clifford being shown red cards.
The Stags also had midfielder Lee Beevers dismissed for a second yellow card in the closing stages.
But, by then, Phil Brown’s side had already made sure of the win to end a run of two successive defeats, thanks to a first half strike from Anthony Straker, an own goal Jamie McGuire and an injury time effort from Kevan Hurst.
The Shrimpers started strongly and almost opened the scoring in just the second minute when Will Atkinson’s left wing cross eventually rolled in to the path of Clifford whose low 16 yard shot was well saved by Mansfield goalkeeper Alan Marriott.
The visiting shot stopper then gathered a 30 yard free-kick from Hurst at the second attempt before the Stags hit back with James Alabi sending a snap shot inches wide of the right post.
Blues were soon back on top with Will Atkinson heading Straker’s left wing cross wide of the left post and, in the 11th minute, they wasted another great chance to score as Hurst somehow sent an eight yard shot, with his left foot, over the crossbar.
And Southend were almost made to pay for the missed opportunities just four minutes when Mansfield striker Calvin Andrew sent a low, 25 yard shot just fractions wide of the right post.
Blues hit back with the recalled Michael Timlin having a low range effort gathered by Marriott at the second attempt, just ahead of the on rushing Hurst.
But the home-side finally made the breakthrough in the 24th minute as Barry Corr did well to tee up Hurst down the right hand side and his fantastic right wing was tapped home by Straker, at the far post, from inside the six yard box.
The Stags suffered a further blow in the 32nd minute when their on loan striker Alabi, who was making his debut after signing on loan from Stoke City, was shown a straight red card after clattering in to Luke Prosser.
However, Southend were also reduced to 10 men just eight minutes later when Clifford was dismissed after making a strong challenge on Andrew.
The midfielder’s red card did not halt Blues’ momentum though and they doubled their lead just before the break when Leonard’s inswinging cross from the right hand side, struck the head of Stags skipper Jamie McGuire and was adjudged to have been carried across the goal-line by Marriott.
The start of the second half was far less eventful until the impressive Ben Coker had a curling 25 yard free kick tipped wide of the left post by Marriott.
Mansfield soon replied with substitute Sam Clucas having a powerful shot parried to safety by Bentley in the 67th minute of the match.
Twelve minutes later, the Shrimpers were forced in to making their first change of the night as Prosser went off, following a clash of heads with Matt Rhead, and was replaced at the heart of the back four by Rob Kiernan.
Moments later, the fit again Marc Laird came on to replace Straker for his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in mid August.
However, there was little action until the game exploded in to life again in the final few minutes with Stags midfielder Lee Beevers being sent off after being shown a second yellow card for a foul on Atkinson.
The Shrimpers then wrapped up the three points with a long range shot from Hurst which flew through the hands of goalkeeper Marriott and in to the back of the South Stand net.