Goal wait is over for Southend United's Ryan Leonard

Beaten - Oxford goalkeeper Luke McCormick watches as Ryan Leonard's header flies into the back of the net

Beaten - Oxford goalkeeper Luke McCormick watches as Ryan Leonard's header flies into the back of the net

First published in Blues by

RYAN Leonard ended a 17-month goal drought to secure Southend United a scrappy 1-0 win against Oxford United at Roots Hall on Saturday.

Leonard came off the bench to head home the only goal of the game five minutes from time.

And he was thrilled to see the ball hit the back of the net.

“I should score more goals than I do so I was really pleased to score, especially as it won us the game,” said Leonard, whose previous effort for Blues came at Port Vale in August 2011.

“To be honest, I was disappointed to be named on the bench, but I understand it’s a squad game and luckily enough I was able to get the winning goal when I came on.

“I think it was my first touch too so it was pleasing moment and it was good for us to get another 1-0 win from a difficult game.”

The victory pushed Blues up to fifth in the League Two standings.

But Paul Sturrock’s side were made to work hard for the win.

Oxford winger Alfie Potter was twice denied by Southend goalkeeper Paul Smith in one on one situations in the first half.

And Leonard insisted Blues were thrilled to have come out on top.

“Oxford had some chances and we had to work hard to win, just like last week at Chesterfield,” said the midfielder.

“To get six points from those two games, especially how the matches went, was very pleasing.

“They’re both good sides as well and will definitely be pushing for the play-offs this season.

“We’ll be pushing for slightly more than that and hopefully we can keep on getting these good results we need to help make that happen.”

Blues boss Sturrock echoed those sentiments and again praised his team’s impressive work-rate as they came out on top despite not being at their best.

“I’m pleased because I thought we worked extremely hard again and ground out the win, which was very important,” said Sturrock.

“I don’t think we played that well in the first half and Paul Smith had to make two excellent saves to help us go in level at half time.

“We were working hard but not really getting in the right positions, but in the second half we played much better to get the result.

“It’s a big win for us too because we’ve now put two wins together and got two clean sheets, which is massively important.”

Blues will now be hoping for more of the same when they travel to League One Leyton Orient for the first leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern section final tomorrow night.

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