SHRIMPERS SMELL THE PLAY-OFFS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Si­mon Smed­ley

SOUTHEND boss Phil Brown hailed a ‘mas­sive’ win af­ter they closed the gap to play-off chas­ing ri­vals Barns­ley to just one point.

The Shrimpers up­set the form­book at Oak­well, se­cur­ing what was a well-de­served vic­tory against a Tykes side who had won 11 of their pre­vi­ous 13 games, and their last six at home.

How­ever, de­spite their unim­pres­sive run of four losses in their pre­vi­ous six matches, Southend turned on the style in South York­shire.

A de­lighted Brown said: “It’s a mas­sive win for us. In the grand scheme of things it’s a huge three points.

“We knew it would be tough for us here, and a few de­ci­sions did go against us at times, but at the end of it our game-plan has worked to per­fec­tion.

“We all know Barns­ley are the form team. They are a re­ally good side, they’ve shown that time and again re­cently.

“Their team is packed full of good foot­ballers, but we’ve come here and our tac­tics have worked bril­liantly.

“The spine of our team has won us the game. Right down the middle, from front to back, we’ve stood up to the test and we’ve got the re­sult we de­served.”

It was an in­ci­dent-packed first half at Oak­well as the Tykes – who have surged up from the foot of League One to pro­mo­tion con­tention in re­cent weeks – were bid­ding to ex­tend their su­perb run of form.

How­ever, the home faith­ful were si­lenced af­ter just four min­utes when Jack Payne met a pass from Ke­van Hurst be­fore guid­ing his sixth goal of the sea­son neatly past Adam Davies from 15 yards.

The Shrimpers then came close to dou­bling their lead af­ter 18 min­utes when An­thony Wordsworth saw an ex­quis­ite curl­ing strike thump the cross­bar af­ter he had been teed up by Payne.

The Tykes fluffed a great chance to level five min­utes later. Vis­it­ing goal­keeper Dan Bent­ley tripped Ash­ley Fletcher in the box, but Conor Houri­hane dis­ap­point­ingly stroked his penalty kick wide.

Hurst al­most dou­bled the Shrimpers’ lead shortly af­ter the restart, but he ri­fled into the side-net­ting from close range.

Back came Barns­ley, with Mar­ley Watkins and sub Sam Win­nall al­most lev­el­ling, but the vis­i­tors wrapped up a de­served win cour­tesy of a thump­ing strike sec­onds from full-time.

Sub­sti­tute Michael Tim­lin smashed home from 25 yards to con­demn the Tykes to de­feat and Barns­ley’s care­taker boss Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom ac­knowl­edged his side had been se­cond best.

He said: “We had a slug­gish start in the open­ing 15 min­utes and that set us back.

“Cer­tainly the missed penalty has proved costly. If that had gone in we’re right back in it and ev­ery­one in­side the sta­dium is lifted.

“To be level go­ing into half-time would have given us that cru­cial mo­men­tum, but I sup­pose at the end of the day it wasn’t to be.

“Credit to Southend. They’ve done a real job on us. They sti­fled us, de­fended re­ally well and prob­a­bly de­served to win. We just couldn’t find that break­through, and so the top of the divi­sion just be­comes tighter and tighter.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

NO PAYNE, NO GAIN: Southend's Jack Payne cel­e­brates scor­ing the opener

DIS­MAY: Barns­ley’s Conor Houri­hane

STAR MAN ADAM BARRE

TT Southe

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