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Southend United 2-1 Pilgrims

Coca Cola League

According to Steve Evans in a pre-match interview Boston United were like a "shaken bottle of pop waiting to explode over League Two". If this performance is anything to go by the pop exploded prematurely and turned into a flat gooey mess. Boston fielded an unchanged starting line-up over that which had been so successful against Scunthorpe on Saturday. The only change was on the subs' bench where Tam McManus came in for the departed Paul Gascoigne. The last time the two sides met was at York Street last season when the Shrimpers had pooped on Steve Evans' return party with a convincing 2-0 win. This time Southend started as they had left off - totally dominating the early play. They took the lead on 15 minutes when Wayne Gray fired in a cross from the right wing and Paul Ellender made a mess of the clearance allowing Mark GOWER to slam the ball home. Seven minutes later Southend increased their lead when Tesfaye Bramble split open the Boston defence with a long pass downfield that evaded Dean West allowing Wayne GRAY a run at goal that ended with an unstoppable shot past Nathan Abbey. Just before half-time Boston's fortunes improved considerably when Southend keeper Darryl Flahavan was sent off for handling the ball outside his area. Courtney Pitt wasted the subsequent free kick by firing high and wide. Bramble took over between the posts as Southend had no reserve keeper on their bench.

Ten man Southend looked to be crumbling when Boston pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half. A cross from Danny Thomas was headed down by Tom Bennett to Andy KIRK who stabbed the ball into the net. It was all Boston now and it seemed it would only be a matter of time before the scores were levelled. Thomas almost connected with a Courtney Pitt cross. Then Matt O'Halloran came on for Thomas and soon saw a long range effort deflected just wide of the post. Lee Thompson now joined the fray in place of Dean West. Paul Ellender then saw his shot from the edge of the area blocked by Duncan Jupp. A foul on Thompson resulted in a free kick 20 yards out, but David Noble's kick was too high. Jason Lee linked up well with Andy Kirk but the Northern Ireland international's shot passed across the face of the goal. With time running out Bramble pulled off a great save to deny Ellender. Then in desperation Nathan Abbey was pushed forward in an attempt to find an equalising goal. Boston won three corners in stoppage time and their last effort ended with Abbey heading the ball past the right post. The win let Southend jump up the table to 11th place, equal on points with Boston, just one place behind them on goal difference.

United team: Nathan Abbey, Lee Beevers, Austin McCann, Dean West (Lee Thompson 70), Paul Ellender, Tom Bennett, David Noble, Danny Thomas (Matt O'Halloran 52), Andy Kirk (Tam McManus 80), Jason Lee, Courtney Pitt. Subs not used: Simon Rusk, Greg Strong.

Match report copyright © Ken Fox, 2004.