Southend 4 Rushden & Diamonds 2

By Steven

Diamonds let a two goal lead slip at Roots Hall this afternoon as Southend staged a remarkable second half comeback to take maximum points and extend their unbeaten run to six.

After going two goals ahead in the first half and playing the better football, Diamonds were left shell shocked as Southend steamrolled their visitors in the second half.

Diamonds boss Brian Talbot were forced to make a major change before the game with Jim Rodwell being recalled into the centre of defence to partner Mark Peters.

It meant that Barry Hunter had failed to recover from his twisted knee injury that he sustained against Carlisle United on Saturday.

Otherwise Brain named an unchanged side with Scott Partridge partnering Onandi Lowe in attack and Michael McElhatton named amongst the substitutes.

For Southend, former Diamonds striker Mark Rawle was named amongst the substitutes with Tesfaye Bramble, who has struck four goals this season, starting in attack.

Diamonds kicked-off the first half and won an immediate corner but a poor delivery from Paul Hall amounted to minimal danger.

It was a poor turnout this afternoon at Roots Hall with large sections of the stands empty but good support from Diamonds had travelled down to the coast to make this midday kick-off.

Both sides were having good periods of possession but on five minutes Diamonds took the lead. Some good build up play found Andy Burgess on the left flank who delivered a perfect cross for Lowe to knock down and Garry Butterworth fired home.

It was a great start for the Diamonds but to their credit, Southend immediately were looking for a way back into the game. The home side won two consecutive corners but Billy Turley done well in the Diamonds goal.

Chances were few and far between but Diamonds were having the better of the play and Brian would certainly have been happy with the way his side had settled down in the opening 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes: Southend 0 Diamonds 1

Diamonds won their second corner of the game on 18 minutes and Burgess sent an excellent delivery into a dangerous position that had Southend goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan in all sorts of trouble.

Southend had not tested Turley inside the opening 20 minutes and Diamonds were playing some positive football with the home side struggling to get the ball out of their own half.

Ritchie Hanlon fired an effort wide of the target on 23 minutes following some good build up play from Lowe and Hall.

After 30 minutes: Southend 0 Diamonds 1

On 30 minutes Southend created their first chance of the game. Rob Newman sent over a perfect cross from the left that Carl Hutchings rose to meet but Turley pulled off an excellent acrobatic save.

Just moments later, as Southend were experience their best spell of the game, Hutchings sent over a cross from the right and this time Damon Searle couldn’t keep his header on target.

But despite Southend’s good spell, Diamonds deservedly doubled their advantage on 35 minutes.

Lowe showed his strength beating off the challenge from two defenders to square the ball to Partridge and although he failed to find the Diamond striker, Phil Whelan sliced his clearance straight to him and the former Brentford hit man found the net. 

Diamonds were certainly looking the better teams as the Southend fans started to get frustrated as they struggled to find any flowing football and trouble the visitors defence.

On 42 minutes Leon Cort let fly from 30-yard but thankfully his effort went straight into the arms of Turley.

Half Time: Southend 0 Diamonds 2

Southend started strongly in the second half and won a corner within the first minute but Diamonds defender managed to deal with the danger and cleared their lines.

Another corner was won just moments later as the home side began the second half in positive spirit but Diamonds were again solid in defence and managed to deal with the danger.

But just six minutes into the second half Southend found themselves back in the game. Hutchings fired a shot just outside the penalty area and although Butterworth cleared his shot off the line, Cort smashed home the rebound.

This was going to be a very testing period for the Diamonds. Southend had come out in the second half and were really taking the game to the visitors but that was to be expected.

Diamonds nearly extended their lead on 57 minutes when after an amazing run from Lowe he released the ball to Hanlon and with only the goalkeeper he failed to find the net with Flahavan making a vital stop with his feet.

That miss was to prove vital as Southend were back on level terms. Bramble found a gap in the Diamonds defence to slide a ball to Barrington Belgrave who side footed a shot past Turley.

After 60 minutes: Southend 2 Diamonds 2

Southend were now the team on top and their supporters believed their side could snatch victory.

Partridge saw a goal disallowed for offside on 65 minutes but despite this, Southend were still the team on top.

And the home side had now gone in front. Their third goal arrived on 67 minute with Bramble running onto a through ball from Belgrave to slide a shot past Turley, who had come rushing out of his goal.

After such a good first-half, Diamonds now saw themselves behind and it was the home side who were starting to play the better football, carving open the visitors defence and finding gaps in the midfield.

After 75 minutes: Southend 3 Diamonds 2

But on 75 minutes this game was over as a contest when Southend hit a fourth goal. Belgrave skipped past Peters and played a nice one-two with Bramble to hit a fierce shot past Turley.

Brian made three changes with ten minutes remaining. Duane Darby, Gary Setchell and McElhatton were all thrown into action.

Diamonds were still pushing forward at every attempt but Southend had now settled into their stride and now playing the better football.

Southend: Flahavan, Broad, Cort, Newman (Clarke 38), Whelan, Searle, Thurgood, Maher, Hutchings (Johnson 90), Bramble (Rawle 88), Belgrave.

Subs not used: Gay, Rawle, Kerrigan 

Bookings:

Diamonds: Turley, Underwood, Peters, Butterworth (McElhatton 79, Partridge (Darby 79), Burgess, Rodwell (Setchell 79), Hall, Hanlon, Sambrook, Lowe.

Subs not used: Brady, Pennock.

Bookings: Partridge (63)

Referee: Mr Grant Hegley.

Attendance: 5,878

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