Early goal sinks Bluebirds at struggling Shrimpers
Southend United 1-0 Barrow AFC
An early goal from debutant Reeco Hackett-Fairchild was enough to give 10-man Southend United the win over a lacklustre Barrow side, as the Bluebirds failed to extend their three match unbeaten run.
With Harrison Biggins serving his one game suspension for his red card against Tranmere, Michael Jolley brought back the returning Chris Taylor in his only change to the line-up after the draw with Rovers.
Things couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Jolley’s side, as Hackett-Fairchild scored with the first attack of the game; cutting in off the right wing to curl a low strike past Joel Dixon, in the third minute.
If the early goal promised an exciting affair, the rest of the game failed to deliver, with the next real shot on goal not coming until nearly 20 minutes in, when Luke James looked to have beaten Mark Oxley with a dipping shot, only for the Southend stopper to get a glove to the ball to tip it over the bar. The Bluebirds had claims for a penalty waved away, after Matt Platt’s header appeared to strike the arm of John White from the following corner, but the referee disagreed.
At the other end, Dixon was called into action to smother at the feet of the advancing Elvis Bwomono, as the sides traded efforts. James again forced Oxley into save before the Shrimpers had the chance to double their lead shortly before the break, but Jason Demetriou’s volley was directed straight at Dixon.
Hackett-Fairchild almost began the second half as he had the first, putting the Barrow defence under pressure but fired high over the Barrow crossbar shortly before the Bluebirds were given a lifeline when Greg Halford was given his marching orders for a late challenge on Scott Quigley, earning him his second yellow card.
Barrow struggled to take advantage of the extra man and, indeed, it was the hosts who had the next big chance, with only good defending from Conor Brown halting James Olayinka’s break through on goal, before Simeon Akinola blazed over.
Bluebirds manager Jolley through caution to the wind and introduced Dior Angus for Brown and it almost paid off when the striker got on the end of Patrick Brough’s teasing cross, but he couldn’t get his header on target as Barrow failed to find the equaliser.
There was still chance for Southend to put the exclamation mark on their win, when a great run from Ashley Nathaniel-George allowed him to present Alan McCormack with a chance from close range, only for his teammate to shoot over late on.
Southend United (3-4-3): Oxley; White, Halford, Hobson; Bwomono, Demetriou, Dieng, Hart; Hackett-Fairchild (McCormack 61), Akinola (Nathaniel-George 81), Olayinka (Taylor 81). Subs not used: Seaden, Howard, Acquah, Walsh.
Barrow AFC (3-5-2): Dixon; Hird (J.Jones 60), Platt, Brough; Brown (Angus 72), C.Taylor, Hardcastle, Beadling, Kay; James, Quigley. Subs not used: Lillis, Zouma, Wilson, J.Taylor.