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Southend United's Kevan Hurst guns down home-town club Chesterfield in FA Cup clash
KEVAN Hurst grew up cheering Chesterfield on in an unlikely charge to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
But on Saturday, the Southend United winger played a key part in ending his home-town club’s hopes of enjoying another memorable run in the competition.
Hurst continued what must surely be the best form of his career with another assist and goal to help the Shrimpers secure an impressive 3-1 victory at the Proact Stadium.
And his late goal, which sealed the win, means the winger has now hit the back of the net in his last four games.
Hurst has also netted five goals in his last six outings and now has seven for the season, which already makes this the most prolific campaign of his career.
As well as that Hurst, who had more assists than any other player in League Two last season, continues to carve out a whole host of chances for his team-mates, making him the main creative force in this current Southend side.
As a result, the Roots Hall hierarchy need to learn from the mistakes made in previous seasons and soon start talking to Hurst about a new contract.
The likes of Sean Clohessy and Gavin Tomlin were allowed to leave on free transfers after their deals wound down and the same cannot now happen with Hurst, whose existing contract expires at the end of the season.
However, at Chesterfield it was not just Hurst who impressed as Anthony Straker also displayed his new found confidence with another excellent display down the left hand side.
Just like Hurst, he scored one and helped to make another and so did fellow midfielder, Marc Laird, who produced his best display since recovering from ankle and knee injuries which kept him sidelined for three months.
Laird initially struggled to find his best form after returning to action but against Chesterfield he figured further forward and was able to use his excellent energy levels to good effect.
That resulted in him hitting the back of the net for the first time in 13 months and alongside him Michael Timlin also excelled in a more withdrawn role.
The 28-year-old used his experience well to read the game, protect Southend’s back four and also break up several Chesterfield attacks to ensure it was the Shrimpers who surged through to the third round of the competition.
But with Timlin and Laird both in such fine form and with Will Atkinson and Ryan Leonard both waiting to come back in after missing Saturday’s game, it does seem slightly strange that Blues are still keen on bringing another midfielder, Bedsente Gomis to the club.
Gomis has done well in behind closed doors friendly for the Shrimpers this season but, with resources and opportunities to strengthen the squad somewhat limited, it would seemingly make more sense to bring in another striker.
Blues remain short of quality cover and competition for places in the central striking position and it is that area of the team which should be a priority for new recruits.
However, right now, those already in possession of a place in the team are bang on form and their work-rate, organisation and togetherness was there for all to see on Saturday.
Up against one of the best teams in League Two, the Shrimpers were clearly the stronger of the two sides and could have won by more had Barry Corr been able to convert a second half penalty.
Corr’s lack of goals remains a nagging concern but the Irishman is still contributing to the team in a very big way.
That combined with the form of those around him means Southend a very tough team to beat right now and they have now not been beaten in their last seven games.
As a result, Blues remain right in the race for promotion as well as being in the third round of the FA Cup.
And, while it can often be quite a dangerous thing to say where the Shrimpers are concerned, everything on the pitch at Roots Hall right now is starting to look very rosy indeed