Report: Southend 3-0 Stags
Mansfield Town’s six match unbeaten away run in Sky Bet League Two came to end tonight following a 3-0 defeat at Southend United.
Anthony Straker’s close-range header and a bizarre own goal from Jamie McGuire put the hosts in firm control at half-time.
Kevin Hurst wrapped up the points for the Shrimpers with the final kick of the game, as his shot deflected past Alan Marriott.
Despite the encounter not being a feisty spectacle, referee Darren Drysdale opted to send off three players.
Stags boss Paul Cox made three changes to his starting xi, with Marriott returning to the side in favour of Liam Mitchell, whilst Calvin Andrew was preferred to Matt Rhead in attack.
Meanwhile, new loan signing James Alabi came in for Sam Clucas.
The hosts started brightly and created their first chance when Will Atkinson’s cross found Conor Clifford, who fired his effort straight at Marriott, before the ball was cleared away to safety.
Moments later, Hurst tested Marriott from a long-range free kick, but his shot was comfortably saved by the Mansfield number one.
On eight minutes, the Stags had their first chance as new signing Alabi dragged his shot wide of Dan Bentley’s left-hand post.
However, it was the Shrimpers who continued to pile on the pressure and Atkinson was then in the thick of the action again, heading Straker’s cross just inches wide.
Southend’s dominance almost paid off in the 11th minute as they missed a golden opportunity to take the lead as Hurst cut inside Pilkington before blasting his shot over.
It appeared to be a wake-up call for the Stags as they put together a lovely move just a minute later, which ended in Andrew hitting his shot just wide after a quick one-two with team-mate Ben Hutchinson.
Stags then caught the home side out on the break as Alabi almost out-muscled defender John White, but Bentley was on hand to retrieve the ball.
After 20 minutes, Marriott had to be at full stretch to keep out Ryan Leonard’s effort, as the Stags goalkeeper clutched the ball with ease.
Southend’s early pressure was finally rewarded on 24 minutes as Stalker headed home from close-range following a superbly timed cross from the ever-impressive Hurst.
It then got worse for Mansfield, as debutant Alabi saw a straight red card after a high arm on Luke Prosser, which many people felt was a harsh decision.
The Shrimpers pushed forward in order to take advantage of their extra man, consistently piling on the pressure, and Straker’s cross almost caught Marriott off his line.
However, Mansfield’s luck appeared to change on 39 minutes as Clifford saw a straight red for a two-footed challenge on Andrew.
Nevertheless, Southend doubled their lead minutes later in bizarre circumstances as Leonard’s cross was headed backwards by McGuire and although the ball was comfortably caught by Marriott, the linesman indicated that the ball had crossed the line.
It was a sucker punch for the visitors, whose challenge now seemed much, much greater.
Southend began the second-half the way they ended the first, creating a number of opportunities, before almost grabbing their third goal of the game as Marriott saved Ben Coker’s curling free kick on 52 minutes.
Coker was hungry for more, and his jinking run saw him fly past Lee Beevers and John McCombe, before he drilled his shot narrowly wide.
On 65 minutes, defender Beevers put in a fantastic far-post cross, but substitute Matt Rhead couldn’t direct his header goalwards as the ball sailed wide.
A minute later, Clucas tested Bentley from outside the area, but the Southend keeper comfortably saved palming the ball away to safety.
Clucas was determined to put Stags back in the game, with two speculative efforts which were both inches wide.
Southend started to close the game off as Cox’s side struggled to find their way through the Shrimpers defence as Leonard almost capped off a fantastic night for the home side drilling a cross just wide of the post.
Beevers then picked up his second yellow card, which saw him receive his marching orders from the referee on the brink of added time, following a late challenge on Atkinson.
However, this didn’t prove to be the last piece of action, as Kevin Hurst’s long-range effort deflected past Marriott in the fifth minute of added time to compound Mansfield’s miserable night.
Attendance: 4,824 (199 visiting supporters).