HACKETT RED CARD SINKS THE COBBLERS
SOUTHEND made it their best start to a season in 23 years with a comfortable triumph over 10-man Northampton Town at Roots Hall as birthday-boy Dave Penney was left beaming.
Goals from Anthony Straker and Freddy Eastwood secured the Shrimpers their third successive victory and clean sheet.
But the Cobblers were forced to play more than an hour with 10 men after winger Chris Hackett was dismissed.
Shrimpers’ assistant manager Penney, who was celebrating his 49th birthday, was full of praise for his side’s performance and start to the season.
“It’s still early days but we’re delighted with three wins and three clean sheets,” said Penney.
“The players are working their socks off and they’re getting the rewards for that.
“If you’re being critical then maybe we should have had three or four goals.
“But at the same time we’re also grateful to our own goalkeeper Daniel Bentley for making a fantastic penalty save when the game was still 0-0.”
Northampton wasted a great chance to open the scoring after just eight minutes when referee Andy Davies pointed to the spot after Will Atkinson had brought Joe Widdoson down inside the area.
But former Shrimpers loanee striker Roy O’Donovan saw his spot-kick saved by Daniel Bentley.
To add to Northampton’s frustration, Hackett was dismissed in the 22nd minute after being shown a second caution for a late challenge on Straker.
Yet, the Cobblers still came close to taking the lead shortly afterwards when Ben Tozer’s header from Darren Carter’s deep free-kick was nodded off the goal-line by John White. After surviving that scare, the Shrimpers opened the scoring in the 38th minute when Straker bagged his first goal in 19 months, when he reacted sharply to being struck by a long-range shot from Eastwood and headed past the advancing Matt Duke.
Southend doubled their lead in the 68th minute when White played in Eastwood and he fired an angled 12-yard shot in to the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Barry Corr and Atkinson were then both denied by Duke late on.
However, Northampton boss Aidy Boothroyd was frustrated and surprised by Town’s display.
“It's a very poor result and I thought we'd come and get something here with the players we've got coming back,” said Boothroyd.
“Key events change games. Roy O'Donovan will score plenty of goals for us this season and I'm not going to point any fingers at anyone for missing penalties.
“But if that goes in we're 1-0 up away from home we can then manage the game from there.
“Then came the red card and while Chris Hackett is terrific, he was very naïve. The referee is in his second year, we had him last year and we know he's quick with the cards.”
JOB DONE: Freddy Eastwood wheels away after scoring for Southend