ON a weekend full of fireworks, it was a Ryan Hall rocket which secured table topping Southend United a 2-1 triumph over promotion rivals Oxford this afternoon.

Hall fired home a fantastic 25 yard shot midway through the second half just five minutes after U’s full-back Damian Batt had cancelled out Mark Phillips’ opening goal.

But Blues were also grateful for the fine form of their on loan goalkeeper Luke Daniels who made a number of superb saves to help his side record a fortuitous victory at Roots Hall.

The custodian’s first involvement came in the 13th minute when he did well to smother a skimming long range shot from Peter Leven  and the U’s again came close to scoring just seconds later when James Constable worked his way past Chris Barker.

However, with just Daniels to beat, the striker tried to square the ball in to the path of Alfie Potter but his attempted pass was diverted for a corner by Peter Gilbert.

With the visitors remaining on top, Leven then saw a 25 yard free-kick parried to safety by Daniels and, in the 21st minute, the on loan West Bromwich Albion keeper did well to rush off his line and bravely deny Constable from close range.

In reply, Gilbert’s near post header from Hall’s right wing corner then flashed past the far post but Oxford were soon back on top.

As a result, Danny Philliskirk had a six yard shot deflected over the crossbar by a sliding Phillips before Andy Whing’s header from the resulting Leven corner was pushed wide of the left post in impressive fashion by Daniels.

The U’s again went close to the breaking the deadlock in the 41st minute when a low, 30 yard free-kick from Leven was diverted wide of the left post by Daniels who saw the shot late through a series of bodies.

But Southend made the most of the let offs by opening the scoring, against the run of play, on the stroke of half-time, when Hall’s left wing free-kick was headed home at the back post by Phillips who rose above Jake Wright to convert from six yards.

At the start of the second half, Oxford were back on top with another Leven free-kick from 25 yards being pushed wide of the right post by Daniels.

After surviving the scare, Blues then wasted a golden opportunity to double their lead as Michael Timlin capatilised on a slip from Wright to race clean through on goal.

However, with just former Southend loanee Clarke to beat, the on loan midfielder tried to fire home with the outside of his left foot but only succeeded in shooting embarrassingly wide of the target with an effort which would have gone off for a throw on if it had enough power.

Oxford replied with Harry Worley heading Leven’s left wing corner straight at Daniels from close range before the U’s drew back level in the 62nd minute.

Leven was again behind it as he delivered an excellent left wing cross which enabled Batt to fly in between Gilbert and Ryan Leonard at the far post to head in to the bottom left hand corner of the net from six yards.

The scores were level for just five minutes though as Blues brilliantly regained the lead, courtesy of an excellent effort from Hall.

The in-form winger collected an excellent pass from Timlin down the right hand side before cutting inside and brilliantly curling a 25 yard shot in to the left hand side of the South Stand net.

That was to be Hall’s last involvement in the match as he was then replaced by Anthony Grant in the 74th minute and Blair Sturrock followed five minutes later in place of Neil Harris up front.

The changes gave Southend a more solid look and they almost extended their lead in the final minute when Leonard headed a right wing cross from Timlin against the foot of the right post.

But a third goal was not needed as Blues hung on to extend their unbeaten run to 11 matches.