The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - To comment on this match go to http://boards.footy­mad.net/ By Chris Phillips

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.”

PIC­TURES: Matt Brad­shaw/pixel8

JOB DONE: Freddy East­wood wheels away af­ter scor­ing for Southend

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