Southend United defeated Essex rivals Colchester United 2-0 in a Boxing Day classic at Roots Hall.
Goals courtesy of first half strikes from Simeon Akinola and Timothee Dieng meant that the Blues have now won three of their last four games, as well as being undefeated in their last five.
The result moves the Shrimpers off of the bottom of the table as they overtake Stevenage to move to 23rd.
Story of the match:
The opening ten minutes consisted of a constant wave of Blue pressure. Free-kick after free-kick were conceded by Colchester until, finally, Southend converted one of them.
Akinola opened the scoring in the tenth minute with a well-placed header into the bottom left corner following a precise Sam Hart free kick. Although the credit should go to the number nine, the U’s marking was nothing short of shambolic as the striker just strolled into the centre of the box.
Mark Molesley’s men continued to pile on the pressure in their pursuit of a second goal. Dieng came close with a couple of headers as did Ashley Nathaniel-George but it was the number eight who broke between the lines.
A calm slotted shot rolled past a standard Dean Gerken and an eruption of noise followed from the Southend dugout as Southend celebrated Dieng’s first goal in over a year. Although it was the midfielder’s goal, it should be noted that the chance was created courtesy of some excellent dribbling by Bournemouth loanee Kyle Taylor.
Southend continued to dominate as the game was played within the Colchester half. Steve Ball’s men were down and out, until Kwame Poku re-ignited some self-belief for the U’s in the 42nd minute. A curled effort from outside the box clattered against the post, the number 23 was desperately unfortunate not to half the deficit.
In the second half, Ball’s men came out a different side. Possession was retained, chances were created and, perhaps most importantly, Southend were beginning to get frustrated.
Michael Folivi was the first player to test Oxley all game with a powerful shot, but the Blues keeper matched the effort parrying the ball away.
Despite the early Colchester pressure, the game fell into a stalemate. Neither side were managing to create any goal scoring opportunities and the possession became equally shared, it seemed as if Molesley was on his way to a third win in four games.
Colchester captain Tommy Smith tried to take the fate of the game into his own hands, directing a looping header towards the Southend net. Oxley tipped the effort over the bar, but the awkward shot almost halved the score line with 14 minutes remaining.
Dieng squandered an opportunity to make it 3-0, and just seconds later, Jovani Brown saw Colchester’s last shot on target saved by Oxley.
The full-time whistle went and Southend were let off a boast of joy. A fantastic first half display was enough to become the pride of Essex on Boxing Day.
Man of the match:
He scored his first goal since December 2019 and he had the performance to match it. Timothee Dieng, take a bow.
The number eight started the game at striker, a position that is not his most comfortable. Despite this, he worked tirelessly, pressing the Colchester defence and getting stuck into challenges. The goal was just the icing on the cake for his excellent performance.
Throughout the first half, Dieng was a key factor in the strong, resilient Southend performance that secured a convincing lead at half time.
In the second, he was just as essential, dropping into midfield to command his team and bully the opposition.
A Boxing Day to remember for Dieng.