Southend United 2
Cresswell 80, Tomlin 90+1
Bradford City 2
Wells 28, Prosser OG 64
Saturday 15 December, 2012
By Mark Danylczuk
In a week of wild emotions for City fans, the jubilation of ‘that’ win against Arsenal turned to despair as City threw away two points in an entertaining encounter against fellow promotion candidates Southend. It was back to the bread and butter of the League Two promotion push, but Phil Parkinson must be scratching his head after a comfortable 2-0 nil lead with 10 minutes to go turned into a 2-2 draw which could even have been lost.
City remained unchanged from the Arsenal game in mid-week, with Will Atkinson and Nakhi Wells overcoming knocks to keep in the starting line-up. One could have forecasted a number of changes with the Brentford FA Cup game coming up on Tuesday, but Parkinson opted to stick with his strongest line-up in order to continue the push towards the automatic promotion places.
The game started brightly as both teams came out attacking with purpose – Southend with similar aspirations to continue their promotion push too. City had a couple of chances within the first few minutes – Hanson heading over from a James Meredith cross in the fifth minute; followed by a Hanson knock-down from a Jones cross a couple of minutes later, but no City player being able to capitalise. From this same attack, Southend counter-attacked up the other end of the pitch with some slick passing which ended with Matt Duke saving Timlin’s shot inside the area with his legs.
City were working the channels well with Wells and Atkinson full of running and providing support to the midfield, and took the lead in the 28th minute with Wells latching on to a pass from Meredith and hitting the ball home after an initial block from the Southend keeper. Cue jubilation from the City fans as the week just kept getting better.
This goal however, spurred on the Southend pressure which continued to half time, with the home side in search of an equaliser. Centre forwards Assombalonga and Tomlin, who have scored 21 goals between them so far this season, were proving a handful for the City defence and it was Assombalonga who nearly scored in the 33rd minute with a near post header just wide from Clohessy’s cross.
Southend were attacking effectively down the right hand side, with the pair of right-back Clohessy and right midfielder Hurst combining well, and they almost got their equaliser in the last chance of the half with Tomlin latching onto a long ball from the back but just missing with an attempted chip over Duke.
The Southend barrage continued in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with both Hurst and Prosser drilling shots just off target to the right of Duke’s post. City needed some fresh legs to take some pressure of the defence and the first sub in the 60th minute was to bring on Forsyth for Thompson who seemed to be suffering with fatigue from the mammoth game on Tuesday.
Somewhat against the run of play, it was City who nicked another with Atkinson picking the ball up on the right hand side, cutting in on his left and playing a ball to the far post. The ball looked to be going safely into the keeper’s hands, but a sliced clearance from Southend’s Prosser took the ball past Smith in the net and sent the City fans into raptures.
City’s second substitution was to bring on Zavon Hines for Wells on the 70th minute, who had an immediate impact in terrorising the defence with some mazy runs, drifting in from the right. It was almost 3-0 in the 80th minute with Atkinson having a left foot curling shot inside the box well saved by the Southend keeper, after an initial Hines shot was blocked.
Southend seemed to be tiring and that seemed to be that. The City fans were in very good voice and enjoying some good-humoured banter with the Southend fans, anticipating a perfect end to a week of one Cup victory, one Cup re-instatement and one League victory. Just hold out for the final 10 minutes…
But a poor piece of defending in the 80th minute let Southend into the game with Cresswell putting away a free header from a Hurst corner. The belief was suddenly back within the Southend camp, and it was backs to the wall for City to preserve a precious lead and hang onto a vital victory for the promotion push. All the work was undone with further lack of concentration; City not dealing with a long ball forward from the keeper, Tomlin latching on and steering the ball past Duke in the first minute of injury time.
City still had further chances to win the game but could not capitalise on any set piece opportunities with the usually reliable Jones, who crossed extremely poorly throughout the game. Bizarrely, even in the last minute with a chance to win the game, City still were leaving three at the back when it seemed right to push on for the winner rather than hang on for a point.
After three short minutes of injury time, that was that and within a quick 10 minute spell, the points had been lost. The Brentford FA Cup game on one hand can’t come soon enough for the City players to erase this game from their minds, but it’s also another game for the stretched squad to manage with no respite.
The magic of Tuesday to the despair of today – the unpredictability of City’s journey so far suggest it’s going to be rollercoaster of a season with more highs and lows. So get strapped in for the ride!
City: Duke, Darby, Meredith, McHugh, Mc Ardle, Thompson (Forsyth 59), Atkinson, Jones, Doyle (Ravenhill 81), Hanson, Wells (Hines 71)
Not used: McLaughlin, Good, Turgott, Connell
Categories: Match Reviews