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Torquay United 1, Southend United 4
GAVIN Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga both bagged braces as Southend United crusied to a comprehensive 4-1 win at Torquay United this afternoon.
The Blues’ striking duo were both in fine form in front of goal at the Plainmoor Stadium.
And that led to Paul Sturrock’s side sending the Gulls to their first home defeat of the season.
The hosts had to play the final 34 minutes with 10 men after skipper Lee Mansell was sent off for a terrible tackle on Assombalonga.
But Blues were on top long before the midfielder’s dismissal.
With three minutes on the clock, winger Kevan Hurst drilled a long range free kick wide of the left post before the home-side hit back with former Southend midfielder Craig Easton shooting off target from a similar distance.
However, it was to be Southend who made an early breakthrough as Tomlin put them in front after just 10 minutes.
The striker collected the ball in the right hand side of the penalty area before bringing it back on to his left foot and stroking a controlled 12 yard shot under the body of Gulls goalkeeper Martin Rice.
Moments later, Marc Laird fired a 20 yard shot straight at Rice before the keeper pushed away a curling free kick from Hurst in the 28th minute of the match.
With Southend remaining on top, Laird then had another effort smothered by Rice before Assombalonga sent a pass from Michael Timlin wide of the left post from 16 yards.
But, after surviving the scares, Torquay almost levelled in the 36th minute when Nathan Craig’s 20 yard free-kick looped up off of Timlin’s head and struck the top of the crossbar with Paul Smith struggling to deal with the flight of the ball.
Blues immediately made the most of the let off too by doubling their lead in the 38th minute, with Asosmbalonga ending a five game goal drought.
The on loan Watford forward collected a through ball from Tomlin before advancing forward and unleashing a left footed shot which took a deflectionoff defender Joe Oastler before finding the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Seven minutes later, Assombalonga was celebrating again as a superb right wing cross from Hurst picked out the youngster at the far post and he made no mistake with an assured header from inside the six yard box.
Southend then made it 4-0 just two minutes in to the second half when Timlin played in Tomlin who rounded the advancing Rice before dummying the defender on the goal-line and tapping the ball in to an unguarded goal.
Soon after that, the hat-trick hunting Assombalonga nodded in a left wing cross from Chris Barker, only to be ruled offside.
But Torquay were soon on target at the other end of the pitch as a quickly taken free-kick led to Niall Thompson delivering an impressive right wing cross which his fellow half-time substitute Ryan Jarvis volleyed in to the bottom left hand corner of the net from 12 yards.
However, the Gulls’ hopes of getting back in to the game suffered a huge blow in the 56th minute when captain Lee Mansell was sent off for a shocking late tackle on Assombalonga.
Ten minutes later, Blues made their first change of the afternoon as Barry Corr replaced an injured looking Tomlin in attack.
Luke Prosser then also came on for Chris Barker at left-back before Freddy Eastwood joined the action late on as Southend easily saw out the final few minutes to stretch their unbeaten run to five games.