The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Matt Chambers

PHIL Brown sin­gled out a su­perb first-half strike by the con­tro­ver­sial Nile Ranger as Southend moved within a point of the play-offs.

The striker, who ap­peared in court least week charged with fraud and money laun­der­ing, net­ted in the 18th minute to set the Shrimpers on the way to a tenth game un­beaten.

Jer­maine McGlashan added a sec­ond in the 76th minute to make the points safe.

And Brown believes that de­spite his off-field trou­bles, Ranger’s qual­ity shone through.

“Nile Ranger was toil­ing a wee bit and looked like he was pulling the weight of the world on his shoul­ders,” said the Southend boss, whose side now sit in sev­enth.

“Then he pro­duced a mo­ment of bril­liance to put us in front and all that weight was lifted away.

“It was an easy de­ci­sion to play him be­cause Thurs­day was an op­tional day for train­ing but he came in and trained very well.

“The lads are look­ing af­ter him. They sup­port each other im­mensely on and off the field, which as a man­ager I re­ally ad­mire.

“We had a clean sheet men­tal­ity right to the end and fully de­served the three points.

“Our un­beaten run is wellde­served by the play­ers be­cause their work rate is tremen­dous and ev­ery player does his job.”

Ranger opened the scor­ing when de­fen­sive con­fu­sion led to a cor­ner that Ja­son Demetriou flighted to­wards the marks­man, who con­trolled inside the box and spun be­fore ex­tend­ing a right foot to fin­ish smartly over his own left-hand shoul­der.

Southend were fully in con­trol in the first half, though the hosts did im­prove, and could have lev­elled when Peter Clarke’s header from an Ol­lie Banks free-kick was di­rected too close to Shrimpers goal­keeper Mark Ox­ley.

Will Atkin­son saw a low shot de­flect a foot wide on the break and Ryan Leonard’s long-range at­tempt was beaten away by Old­ham goal­keeper Con­nor Ri­p­ley, be­fore McGlashan’s goal.

Cap­i­tal­is­ing on a poor Banks pass, he ad­vanced and pro­duced a shot the Ri­p­ley saved ini­tially be­fore con­vert­ing the re­bound with an out­stretched right foot.

An­thony Wordsworth hit a free-kick Ri­p­ley tipped wide and at the death, Banks had a header cleared off the line with Cameron Burgess di­rect­ing the fol­low-up against the bar for the sorry hosts, who drew a blank on home soil for the eighth time in ten league out­ings.

Old­ham man­ager Stephen Robin­son said: “The per­for­mance was dis­ap­point­ing and the re­sult takes care of it­self.

“There were four or five play­ers un­recog­nis­able from our pre­vi­ous two games.

“There seems to be a real fear fac­tor of play­ing at home. I can’t put my fin­ger on it and the crowd were very good, not get­ting on the boys’ back when I prob­a­bly would have done!

“What­ever tac­tics you play, if you can't pass a ball five yards then you are go­ing to lose.”

PIC­TURES: Si­mon Brady/ProS­ports

STAR MAN AN­THONY WORDSWORTH Southend THE WRITE STUFF: Nile Ranger en­sures he will make on-the­field head­lines by scor­ing Southend’s open­ing goal

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