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Brentford 2, Southend United 1
SOUTHEND United’s dreams of an FA Cup clash with European Champions Chelsea were ended at Brentford tonight, despite an outstanding performance from goalkeeper Paul Smith.
The Blues shot stopper pulled off a dozen outstanding saves on his return to Griffin Park.
But the Bees were still able to triumph 2-1 to set up a fourth round tie with the Premier League giants.
Southend created the game’s first chance inside the opening minute of the match when recalled midfielder Anthony Straker fired a low 25 yard shot straight at Brentford goalkeeper Simon Moore.
But the home side soon got on top with Harry Forrester firing wide of the left post from the edge of the penalty area after a poor pass from Mark Phillips, who was playing in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role, had been intercepted.
With the Bees continuing to push forward, Forrester then slammed a well struck 30 yard shot against the top of the crossbar and, in the 15th minute, the lively midfielder has a another effort tipped wide of the right post by Smith.
The Blues shot stopper then did superbly well to tip a low, 12 yard volley from Clayton Donaldson wide of the left post.
But Smith was finally beaten in the 26th minute when Lee Hodson’s inswinging left footed cross from the right flank picked out an unmarked Paul Hayes at the far post and the former Bromfords School pupil had the simple of task of volleying the ball home from inside the six yard box.
Brentford soon almost doubled their advantage when the lively Forrester had a well struck long range shot brilliantly tipped over the crossbar by Smith.
However, Blues immediately hit back and wasted a clear cut chance to score in the 32nd minute of the match when Kevan Hurst’s right wing cross found the head of Straker.
His initial effort was tipped on to the underside of the crossbar by Moore but the Southend midfielder somehow fired the resulting rebound wide of the right post from four yards.
Having survived the scare, Brentford almost made it 2-0 in the 40th minute when Clayton Donaldson skipped his way past both Ryan Cresswell and Luke Prosser before having a 12 yard shot impressively pushed around the right post by Smith.
The Blues shot stopper then parried out a 12 yard shot from Hayes before also tipping over a powerful effort from Adam Forshaw in the closing action of the first half.
Things seemed to be getting worse for Southend just two minutes after the break when the influential Cresswell limped off injured and had to be replaced by Alex Woodyard.
The enforced switch led to Phillips moving back in to the middle of the defence but Paul Sturrock’s side momentarily started to get on top.
And, in the 48th minute, they wasted a golden chance to equalise when Michael Timlin somehow sent a scuffed six yard shot wide of the right post after Hurst’s right wing cross had hit Straker and rebounded in to his path.
Brentford soon replied with Forrester having an attempted chip parried to safety by Smith before the Bees squandered a clearer chance to score in the 56th minute when referee Darren Drysdale pointed to the penalty spot after Phillips had brought down Donaldson inside the area.
However, Forrester could still not find a way past Smith as his well struck penalty was superbly saved by the keeper who dived full length to his right and somehow diverted the ball wide of the goal with his outstretched left arm.
Smith then blocked a low shot from Jonathan Douglas with his right leg and, in the 63rd minute, the keeper denied Forshaw when the winger was clean through on goal.
Smith then tipped another effort from Forshaw wide of the left post before Blues were forced in to making their second change of the game as Hurst limped off with a back problem and was replaced in midfield by Ryan Leonard.
And the substitute midfield made an immediate impression as he collected a pass from Sean Clohessy and delivered a chipped cross which Corr headed in to the back of the net from six yards for his eighth goal of the season.
But Blues were on level terms for just seven minutes as Donaldson was given space to attack down the right flank and advanced in to the penalty area before sending a deflected effort in to the right hand side of the goal.
Southend attempted to get back in to the game with Neil Harris coming on to replace Straker but Brentford held on to set up a fourth round tie against Chelsea.