LEE Barnard’s late penalty on his 100th appearance for the club secured Southend United a 1-0 win at Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
Blues looked like having to settle for a frustrating share of the spoils of the opening day of the League Two season at the Crown Ground.
But, after Barry Corr had seen an earlier penalty saved by goalkeeper Luke Simpson, Barnard made no mistake with an assured spot kick five minutes from time.
Southend fully deserved the win and their first opportunity came with four minutes on the clock when midfielder Conor Clifford saw a well struck 18 yard shot parried to safety by Stanley goalkeeper Simpson.
However,the home-side then also came close to opening the scoring when a deflected effort from James Gray struck the outside of the right post.
Moments later, Gray stabbed another effort off target before the Shrimpers hit back with Corr scuffing a left wing cross from Ben Coker wide of the right post from 12 yards.
Coker then went close with a curling 25 yard free-kick which just went past the same upright before Ryan Leonard saw an effort from a similar distance smothered by Simpson.
The Stanley keeper then did well to tip a rising effort from Myles Weston over the crossbar after an excellent through ball from Kevan Hurst had carved open the defence.
But, with 47 minutes on the clock, Blues wasted a clearer chance to score when referee Andy Haines pointed to the penalty spot after Dean Winnard brought down Shaq Coulthirst.
However, Corr was unable to make the most of the opportunity as his low penalty was easily kept out by Simpson.
After surviving the scare, Accrington soon replied with Josh Windass firing inches over from close range.
Blues responded by making their first substitution of the game in the 65th minute with David Worrall coming on to replace Coulthirst on the left flank.
Moments later, Barnard replaced Corr in attack alongside Weston and it was the summer signing who wasted Blues’ next chance, curling a 16 yard shot straight at Simpson.
But Barnard then won a late spot-kick after being brought down by Winnard and he fired an assured finish in to the right hand side of the net to secure a winning start for Phil Brown’s side.