Mansfield Town endured a disappointing afternoon as they were defeated 2-0 by Southend United at Roots Hall.
The Shrimpers opened their account in the 21st minute when the prolific Barry Corr curled a left-foot shot from just inside the penalty area past goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley.
Their lead was doubled seven minutes later as Will Atkinson pounced on an opportunity after Pidgeley parried the ball in his direction from Ryan Leonard’s initial shot.
Whilst the Stags had more pressure in the second half, no further goals were added and the Shrimpers were able to claim all three points.
It was also a good day for Southend ‘keeper Dan Bentley, who equalled a long-standing record for successive home clean-sheets. The young custodian last conceded a league goal at Roots Hall back in October.
Following last weekend’s disappointing 4-1 defeat at home to York City, Stags’ manager Adam Murray decided to make five changes in total as his team looked to regain form.
The Stags lined up with Pidgeley in goal. Lee Beevers started at right-back, Callum Elder at left-back, and Ritchie Sutton partnered Martin Riley in the centre of defence. A midfield five consisted of Reggie Lambe, Simon Heslop, Ricky Ravenhill, Chris Clements and Terry Hawkridge. The sole striker was Vadaine Oliver.
The opening stages saw both sides tussle to gain the upper hand. Southend right-back John White made his way forward and cut inside twice on the edge of the penalty area, but a well-timed standing tackle from Hawkridge dispossessed him of the ball before he could get a shot away.
The Shrimpers were forced to make an early substitution when centre-back Adam Thompson fell awkwardly and dislocated his shoulder. In evident pain, he limped to the sidelines and Cian Bolger came onto the field in his place.
As the first 10 minutes elapsed the Stags were able to garner a good spell of possession as Ravenhill looked to play his team-mates through on a couple of occasions, but they were quickly forced to defend as Riley got an important block on Corr’s curling left-foot shot from just outside the penalty area.
The match was delayed again when Corr and Ravenhill clashed heads after going up for a ball in the penalty area. Both players were able to continue.
Southend thought they deserved a free-kick in their final third when winger Stephen McLaughlin went down under a Riley challenge. Moments later, Hawkridge was fouled in the centre of the park, but the referee played an advantage as the ball fell to Oliver’s feet. However, he was unable to pick out the on-running Lambe with his through ball.
Phil Brown’s men broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when Clements lost possession of the ball in the opposition half. Michael Timlin was able to capitalise as he played a through ball to the Shrimpers’ top scorer Corr who finished with aplomb from a tight angle.
The home side doubled their advantage in the 28th minute after Pidgeley did well to save Leonard’s original shot, but he could only parry the ball straight in the direction of Will Atkinson who finished calmly into the back of the net.
Adam Murray’s men looked to peg a goal back shortly after when Riley got on the end of a well-manoeuvred set piece in the penalty are and headed the ball back to Oliver but he wasn’t able to find the target from just inside the penalty area.
As the match entered three minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first half, the Stags gave away possession cheaply in Southend’s half. Pidgeley was unable to get out in time to collect the ball, but luckily for him Corr couldn’t bring the ball under control and Mansfield’s goalkeeper ultimately gathered at the second attempt as the first half finished with the scoreline at 2-0.
The match recommenced with neither side able to assert themselves fully. The fleet-footed Hawkridge looked to play in Oliver but his lofted pass had too much on it and the striker had no chance of getting on the end of it. The Shrimpers had a decent sight on goal when White’s cross from the right side found Corr who looked to add to his tally put could only guide his header wide of goal.
Adam Murray made his first chance of the match on the hour mark when he introduced striker Rakish Bingham for Heslop in an attempt to reduce the deficit.
The Stags came close to finding a goal in the 66th minute after Hawkridge’s delivery from the left corner found the head of Oliver, whose effort slammed against the woodwork. Bingham made his presence felt afterwards, but his shot was blocked.
Phil Brown made a tactical change one minute later when Joe Pigott was replaced by Jake Cassidy. Adam Murray mirrored this as he looked to add further firepower by bringing on Matt Rhead who joined Bingham up front.
Mansfield threatened again in the 74th minute as Clements’ well-placed pass found its way through to substitute Bingham. The striker’s snapshot from just inside the penalty area took a deflection that saw the ball go out for a corner.
The visitors managed to maintain a good spell of possession in the Shrimpers’ half as the match wore on and the rain began to fall at Roots Hall. The Stags had a plethora of corners in the second half and saw a glimmer of hope off one of them in the 84th minute when Beevers’ shot was cleared off the line by the Southend defender.
Despite an attempt from Leonard to add a third from outside the penalty area in stoppage-time, the match finished with no changes to the half-time score as Southend celebrated a 2-0 victory.
Attendance: 5,925 (188 away supporters)