SLICE & DICE SHRIMPERS
Wilder revels in leaders’ ‘big win’
SHEFFIELD United manager Chris Wilder heaped huge significance on his side’s impressive win at Southend United.
The Blades’ triumph was their sixth in succession and Southend’s first defeat in 14 League One matches.
And Wilder, whose team are now four points clear at the top of the table, could not have been happier to condemn the Shrimpers to their first league loss since October.
“This was a big result for us,” said Wilder.
“I know how difficult it is to win at Southend because I don’t think I’ve ever got a result here before.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with their second goal though, because we had chances to do something about it.
“But our second-half performance took it to a different level and we’ve shown a lot of good attributes.
“We got pegged back by their equaliser when we should have been 2-0 up after five minutes but then we really took the game away from them in the second half.
“They are a dangerous side and they battered us at our place.
“They have some good players and I’m glad we don’t have to come here again this season.
“People would have been looking at Sheffield United here and thought it could have gone either way so this is a big, big win but we won’t be getting away.”
Blades took the lead after just three minutes when Ethan Ebanks-Landell headed home Mark Duffy’s left-wing cross from 12 yards.
Right wing-back Kieron Freeman then missed a great chance to make it 2-0 as he fired wide of the post when clean through on goal.
And the Shrimpers took advantage to equalise in the 19th minute when Simon Cox neatly controlled a pass from Marc-Antoine Fortune before stroking an impressive shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. Southend began to enjoy their best spell of the game with Anthony Wordsworth having a 20-yard shot tipped over by Simon Moore.
But, after surviving the scare, the visitors regained the lead in the 42nd minute when an unmarked Jack O’Connell volleyed home Duffy’s deep right-wing free-kick from six yards.
Neither side threatened at the start of the second half before former Southend loan striker Caolan Lavery made it 3-1 in the 72nd minute with a powerful left footed shot following a goalmouth scramble.
Four minutes later, Lavery turned provider as his through ball enabled Freeman to score for the third game in succession as he thundered a rising shot into the roof of the net.
However, the Shrimpers continued to fight and netted an 88th-minute consolation with substitute Jermaine McGlashan on target before Cox struck the bar with another effort at the death.
But the late drama came too late to stop Southend suffering their first defeat since October, much to the disappointment of their manager Phil Brown.
“The game was billed up as top against seventh with two inform teams but one team turned up and one didn’t, which has surprised me,” said Brown.
“I changed the system to cope with them and maybe I was thinking about them too much when I did that.
“I’ll have a look at all that but, at the end day, you can’t legislate for the goals we gave away.
“Two of them were from setpieces and that’s down to individuals not the system.
“But it’s one defeat in 14 games, our points return in that run is Championship form and we need to see the right kind of reaction to this loss now.”
COOL: Jack O’Connell calmly slots home sheffield United’s second just before half-time
STAR MAN KIERON FREEMAN Sheffield Utd