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Southend United 3, Oxford United 0
JAMAR Loza helped Southend United end their longest ever winless streak with a stunning man of the match display in tonight’s terrific 3-0 triumph against Oxford United at Roots Hall.
Loza had a hand in Blues’ first two goals before he completed the scoring with a fine individual effort just four minutes.
And his impressive form ensured Phil Brown’s side finally ended a run of 13 games without a win to move back in to the play-off places.
Southend started strongly in front of the Sky Sports’ cameras and went in front after just nine minutes with Will Atkinson opening the scoring.
The midfielder reacted sharply after Michael Timlin has miscontrolled a left wing cross from the lively Loza and guided the ball in to the back of the net with a neatly controlled half volley from close range.
Things were to soon get better for Blues as they doubled their lead with 17 minutes on the clock.
The on loan Loza was again instrumental as he was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area by former Shrimpers goalkeeper Ryan Clarke and referee Dean Whitestone immediately pointed to the spot.
That enabled Lee Barnard to confidently step forward and fire the resulting penalty in to the bottom left hand corner of the net.
The spot kick was the striker’s first goal since returning to Roots Hall in January and it was also the first time he had hit the back of the net since scoring for Oldham at Swindon Town in March 2013.
Moments later, Blues were almost celebrating again when Timlin had a well struck 25 yard shot tipped wide of the left post by Clarke.
But, having survived that scare, Oxford then wasted a great chance to get back in to the game when James Constable volleyed David Hunt’s left wing corner over the crossbar from close range.
However, the Shrimpers were soon back on top and, with 33 minutes on the clock, Loza turned well in the right hand side of the area before having a close range shot well saved by Clarke.
That kept Oxford in the game and, on the stroke of half-time, they almost halved Southend’s lead when Sean Rigg’s header from Hunt’s left wing corner was cleared off the line by Kevan Hurst.
At the start of the second period, Oxford again came close to scoring when Constable chested a long throw from Hunt just past the left post before play switched back to the other end of the field with Hurst shooting just inches over with a well struck shot from 25 yards.
With 57 minutes on the clock, Barnard then came close to netting with a powerful volley which also flew just over from the edge of the penalty area.
With Blues continuing to look dangerous in attack Hurst soon had a curling effort tipped over by Clarke before the keeper somehow kept out John Egan’s close range header from Hurst’s left wing corner.
The second of those near misses came seconds after the Shrimpers had made their first change of the night with Marc Laird coming on to replace Timlin in midfield.
He lined up alongside Ryan Leonard whose deflected long range shot in the 82nd minute was tipped on to the crossbar and over by the in-form Clarke.
But the shot-stopper was finally beaten again in the 86th minute when Loza showed good speed and strength to sprint through and fire past Clarke with an assured left footed finish from 12 yards.
And that completed a miserable first game in charge for new Oxford boss Gary Waddock who took control of the U’s on the eve of the match.