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Super subs snatch a slice of Southend United history
FREDDY Eastwood and Barry Corr came off the bench to fire Southend United to victory against Exeter City on Saturday — and in doing so celebrated a rare achievement.
For, just once before, in Blues’ 106 year history have two substitutes scored in the same game.
That came back in 1988 when Roy McDonough and Martin Ling both found the back of net against Wigan Athletic after being left out of the starting line-up.
And a repeat performance came at just the right time against the Grecians at Roots Hall as, up until the introductions of Eastwood and Corr and the resulting change in system, Southend had been second best against a high flying Exeter side.
However, once Corr came on after 17 months out injured, the mood inside Roots Hall was immediately lifted.
And the more positive feeling worked itself down on the pitch where Blues began to get on top for the first time in the game with an added intensity to their attack.
That resulted in Corr working his way on the scoresheet as the striker secured a Roy of the Rovers type comeback.
During the week, Southend boss Paul Sturrock had revealed the Irishman would be part of the squad to simply feel a part of things again.
But, with Blues trailing 1-0, Corr was thrown on for the final 18 minutes and wasted no time in heading home a looping right wing cross from Kevan Hurst.
The goal sparked wild celebrations and was a special moment for the striker and his supporters after a prolonged period on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
At times, Corr feared he would never be able to play again but through sheer hard work from both him and the club’s medical staff, he now finds himself back in Sturrock’s plans.
And, although he will need to be eased slowly back in to the attack, his presence could still be crucial to Blues, as they possess no other targetman-type of striker in their squad.
Eastwood’s return could also prove to be equally as important, especially if he can rediscover his best form on a consistent basis.
The striker showed glimpses of his skill after coming on against Exeter and also popped up with a late winner.
But Eastwood also needs to work on his fitness and remain fully committed if he is to become a regular match-winner for his side.
However, first he must fight for his place in the team as Sturrock now has a number of strikers vying for selection.
Gavin Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga have linked up well during the start of the season, while Neil Harris showed what he was capable of towards the end of the previous campaign and will also be pushing for a starting slot.
Such selection headaches do not exist in other areas of the team and, with Blues currently under a transfer embargo, the club cannot bring in reinforcements.
Sturrock is therefore to be commended for guiding a depleted squad to five wins in their last six games.
Saturday was the Scotsman’s 100th league match in charge of Blues and he marked it by changing the shape and style of his side in order to secure another three points.
It was a similar story at Cheltenham Town last weekend when the midfield was altered to get Southend back on top and he deserves praise for the job he is doing in difficult circumstances.
Some will disagree and remain disgruntled by the direct style of play.
But Blues do seem to be mixing things up more this season and the additions of Hurst, Eastwood, Tomlin, Assombalonga and John Spicer would certainly not have been made if the team were to be playing just route one.
On top of that, the spirit among the new-look squad is also top notch and if the focus remains on football rather than the club’s fragile finances then this could definitely be a good season for Southend.