SOUTHEND UNITED

3-1

MANSFIELD TOWN
Thurgood 61, Bramble 77, Searle 90   Lawrence 28

Martin Shaw at Roots Hall

This was a re-arranged game which served as a benefit for referee Mike North from Dorset, who so tragically died during the abandoned game on Easter Monday. Mrs North was in attendance, and in an extremely moving moment, showed remarkable courage when she walked onto the pitch and to the edge of the centre circle, as the minute’s silence was about to begin. Premiership referee Paul Durkin, a close friend of Mike North and also from Dorset, was invited to officiate the game, and afterwards spoke of his honour at doing so and said “Mrs North handled a difficult situation magnificently and showed tremendous courage on what was a very sad night." The two assistant referees and the fourth official were the same as on Easter Monday. After the game Paul Durkin, speaking on BBC Radio Essex, said that the 2 sides had been a credit in the way they had played the game, and that there had not been a bad tackle all night.  The attendance of 3,345 was unfortunately down about 1000 on Southend’s average gate this season, but with the net gate receipts going to Mike North’s family, should still have raised a significant sum. There were about 50 Stags fans in attendance.  Stags were unchanged from the side that had beaten Scunthorpe on Saturday, except that Bobby Mimms returned in place of Kevin Pilkington in goal.

Southend had tried to sign a couple of big name stars, in an attempt to boost the attendance, but manager David Webb revealed in the local paper, the Evening Echo, that he had been foiled. He had tried to recruit former Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli and record Arsenal goalscorer Ian Wright. Webb said "We were given permission to sign guest players for what is obviously a special game, but we weren't successful," said Webb. "I only had until last Friday to get people registered and despite putting a lot of feelers out it wasn't enough time. Vialli said he would have loved to have played for us, but he was already committed to a testimonial game in Italy. And I never heard from Wright, but it's not anybody's fault - it was just too short notice.”

Stags began the game under pressure and should have fallen behind as Southend midfielder Rawle missed a couple of sitters in the opening 10 minutes, with Stags defence gone missing. Stags gradually found their way into the game, with Disley like a terrier in midfield and Lawrence working hard to track back into defence as well as providing a spark going forward.  Then on 28 minutes Stags were in front with a terrific goal. Williamson sent over a chipped corner and Lawrence, completely unmarked 2 yards outside the box, fired the ball in on the volley. It went through a ruck of players and somehow through the goalkeeper’s legs. It may have looked comical on the goalkeeper, but this shouldn’t disguise the wonderful skill from Lawrence and Williamson.
Stags continued to come under pressure and the defending left a little to be desired.

Half time 0-1

The second half started very quietly with few chances at either end, but more poor defending allowed the home side to equalise on 61 minutes. A right-wing cross from the long-haired Hutchings was met by Thurgood for an easy header into the corner of the net giving Mimms no chance. It appeared that it was Asher who had lost his man in allowing the header. Stags brought on Boulding for Bradley and Boulding twice went close to scoring, once with a great header from a terrific Greenacre cross, and once with a shot. Then, as Stags went for a winner, striker White was brought on for defender Jervis on 74 minutes, but almost immediately Southend took the lead. Wardley’s mis-hit shot bobbled through to Tes Bramble (brother of Ipswich’s Titus Bramble). Stags players claimed offside, but unfortunately Reddington was playing him onside. Bramble turned and from close range smacked a shot into the roof of the net.
With the score at 2-1, Stags would have at least remained in the top half of the table, by virtue of having scored more goals than Plymouth Argyle. But 3 minutes into injury time, a free-kick was awarded for the home side 30 yards from goal. Full back Damon Searle had earlier in the half had 2 great long range efforts, but this time he made it count as his powerful drive thundered into the left hand side of Bobby Mimms’ net. And so Stags dropped below Plymouth into 13th place in the final reckoning.
It was a disappointing end to the season for the Stags, after the optimism generated by 4 successive home wins, and showed that there is much work to be done in improving the away form, if a promotion challenge is to be made next season. Really only Disley, Lawrence and substitute Boulding played particularly well, though no-one was especially poor. Stags boss Billy Dearden admitted: "In the second half we gave away three sloppy goals and got exactly what we deserved - nothing."

Man of the match : Liam Lawrence

Attendance:  3,345

Mimms 6, Asher 6, Reddington 6, Blake 6, Jervis 6, Hassell 6,  Disley 7, Williamson 6, Lawrence 7, Bradley 6, Greenacre 6.

Subs: Williams (for Williamson, 46 mins) 6, Boulding (for Bradley 66 mins) 7, White (for Jervis 74 mins) 6.

Subs not used: Pilkington, Andrews.