Shrimpers triumph after dramatic late strike - Great Wakering Rovers 2-3 Southend United
Brian Jeeves with the factor 30 at Burroughs Park
The seasiders annual day out to the Doomsday Village passed off without too much incident, although it must be said, Great Wakering Rovers gave their illustrious visitors one hell of a scare.
On what was a blistering hot afternoon, Burroughs Park was bursting at the seams as a near record attendance crammed in to get a glimpse of this opening encounter. Some had arrived in the clubhouse early to take in the British Lions decisive Oddball Test Match against those colonised (some for such heinous crimes as scrumping for apples). Despite the result, the early “session” and bright sunshine helped created a jovial mood amongst the gathering of 913.
Rovers, with new recruits Adam Seal, Jay Smith and Gary Paterson, are fully expected to be in the thick of the Essex Senior League promotion shake-up, whereas at this stage, it would be anyone’s guess as to the outcome of the Shrimpers League 2 campaign. Nevertheless, leading into this match, the signings of John White from Colchester United and Will Atkinson from Bradford City have given manager Phil Brown’s Jury, that was very much out, some serious food for thought.
Southend flew out of the blocks, within a minute Rovers keeper Adam Seal was forced into action, turning aside a stinging effort from Straker. However, if Southend believed this would be a cakewalk then they were soon in for a shock.
In the fifth minute Gary Paterson’s low drive found the bottom corner of Daniel Bentley’s net to give the villagers the lead. It was an emotional moment for “Pato” a life-long Shrimpers supporter who was the proverbial “kid in a sweet shop” simply being able to play against his heroes.
Southend hit back. Ryan Creswell’s header struck the outside of an upright, while the busy Jack Payne tested Seal with a shot that found the custodian’s midriff.
It must be said, Rovers with a more settled team, were enjoying the better of the opening passage of play, although Anthony Straker once again brought the best out of Seal as Southend started to find their feet. Before the Shrimpers could restore parity they were struck down by another blow from Paterson. It has always amazed me that “Pato” hasn’t plied his trade at a higher level. The ease in which he doubled the home sides lead by dispossessing Luke Prosser and firing past the despairing Bentley, must have had Blues manager Phil Brown enquiring his availability.
As Southend struggled to make any headway, an uneasy hush descended upon Burroughs Park as the vast majority of the crowd looked on somewhat concerned. Rovers were playing much the better football, Straker’s air shot when given a sight of goal seemed to sum up the Shrimpers plight. In fact, Rovers almost added to their tally. Dave Collins’ shot was expertly palmed away by Daniel Bentley as the home side looked to kill the game off.
Just before the break for tea the impressive Jack Payne reignited his duel with Seal, once again the Rovers goalie had the crowd gasping, denying the Blues youngster with a brilliant save. Incredibly, Rovers had enjoyed the better of the first period and yet could quite easily have returned to the dressing rooms behind but for Seal’s brilliance.
A number of changes to the ranks meant the second half would always have the feel of a completely different game. Within a minute of the restart, Southend gave themselves a lifeline when former Scunthorpe United man Cleveland Taylor thumped an impressive half volley past Rovers replacement keeper Louis Godwin-Green to half the deficit.
Southend started to enjoy more of the play; however, a series of promising situations evaporated with the lack of a quality final ball. Ryan Leonard went closest to levelling the score with a shot that whistled over the bar after the midfielder found himself in a decent position.
The pace of the game slowed considerably and the audience became somewhat melancholic as Southend seemed to lack ideas and the extra pintage consumed in the wake of the Lion’s early victory in Australia began to wear off. However, Freddy Eastwood soon restored a life to the masses and even drew out an “Oooo” when his free-kick just cleared the Rovers bar.
With nine minutes remaining Southend clawed themselves level. Ryan Auger eluded Godwin-Green with a curling strike low into the corner of the net, the goal brought the crowd and indeed Southend back into life.
In the final minute, Godwin-Green made a marvellous save with his feet to deny one of the Shrimpers trialists, nevertheless, the visitors were not to be denied. With just seconds remaining a sharp looking Freddy Eastwood beat the Rovers keeper with a blistering effort to secure a narrow victory.
With Southend’s squad still very much a work in progress it is difficult to read anything into this encounter, however, my message to the villagers of the doom is clear: Get yourselves over to Burroughs Park and back this team as I predict a championship coming your way!
Great WakeringRovers: Adam Seal, Billy Radley, Max Kent, James Pugsley, Stuart Hepburn, Nick Skelton, Jay Smith, Ashley Hawkins, Gary Paterson, Aaron Baldwin, David Collins.
Rovers Subs: Louis Godwin-Green, Albert Levett, Lewis, Sparrow, Nathan Fletcher, Ty Benjamin, Billy Johnson, Dan Trenkel, Dan Williams, Dan Hall.
Southend United: First-half XI: Bentley; White, Cresswell, Prosser, Coker (T); Straker, Hurst, Payne, Laird; Hemmings (T) and Erskine (T)
Second-half XI: Ted Smith; Auger, Barker, Phillips, Trialist; Taylor (T), Leonard, Trialist, Trialist; Eastwood, Corr
Rovers Man of the Match: Shared between Adam Seal and Gary Paterson.
(T) = Trialist
Trialist = Un-named trialists