Southend United 0-2 Carlisle United: Shrimpers' football league hopes dented by rampant Cumbrians
Above: Offrande Zanzala celebrates his strike against Southend United (Source: Jacques Feeney, Getty Images)

Goals from Carlisle United strikers Offrande Zanzala and Gime Toure helped lift the Cumbrians to tenth in the table and keep their play-off hopes alive.

Carlisle defeated an underwhelming Southend United side whose safety ambitions are beginning to look bleak, with the prospect of non-league football looking more and more likely as the games begin to run out.

Simeon Akinola failed to disrupt Carlisle's performance, missing a penalty in the first half and never recovering with confidence from his misjudgement.

Southend failed to get going, having just one shot on target all game, from the penalty spot, and never really testing the Carlisle goalkeeper. 

  • Teams

Southend United: Oxley; Demetriou, Hobson, Cordner, Clifford, Hackett-Fairchild, McCormack, Ferguson, Nathaniel-George, Acquah, Akinola.

Carlisle: Farman; Tanner, Hayden, MacDonald, Armer, Riley, Guy, Mellish, Patrick, Zanzala, Alessandra.

  • Story of the match

Following a minute's silence for the late Yeovil Town captain Lee Collins, who sadly passed away aged 32, the game got underway in Essex.

The first real opportunity of the match didn't come until the 16th minute, as Zanzala picked up the loose ball on the edge of the box, turned his man and dragged his shot wide of Mark Oxley's goal.

But Zanzala would only miss one chance, as he righted his wrongs and sent Carlisle into the lead. The Congolese forward picked up the ball from Aaron Hayden's chest and drove forward, before reaching the edge of the box and rifling the ball into the bottom corner to grant the Cumbrians a first half lead.

However, Southend nearly found a route back into the contest courtesy of Akinola. The former Barnet attacker broke into the box before he was dragged down by Callum Guy, but the resulting penalty, taken by Akinola, was well saved by Paul Farman, following quite a confident walk-up to the penalty itself.

Heading into the second half, the travelling Carlisle looked to double their advantage courtesy of Jon Mellish, but the midfielders powerful effort was palmed behind by Oxley.

Southend did find themselves with the ball in the back of the net thanks to Akinola, but the Nigerian was in an offside position from a Tom Clifford free-kick.

Carlisle continued to search for their second on a fluid counter-attack, as Mellish found himself deep by the byline and crossed, but Toure's header was too soft and Oxley easily collected.

But Toure did grasp his next chance. Carlisle doubled their lead thanks to the former Hartlepool United striker, as Jack Armer played an excellent ball into Lewis Alessandra who dinked into the path of Toure. The Frenchman opened up his body and bent the ball into the far corner, leaving Oxley no chance and Southend now hanging by a thread in their football league hopes.

Southend's afternoon was summed up as they searched for a consolation goal in the last minute, and Akinola had a strike on the edge of the box which was so weak that the defender controlled it and cleared. The referee called the game to a close, meaning the Shrimpers miss out on the chance to cut their distance from safety , and the prospect of non-league football next season looks even more likely.

  • Takeaways

Another glum day for Southend, as the Shrimpers failed to build on their victory over Harrogate Town last weekend and never really got going, having just one shot on target throughout the entire contest (the missed penalty). 

Akinola is one man who will feel guilt from this match, and it is crucial he doesn't let this destroy his confidence and his quality will be desperately needed in this final run of games. But Southend now must pull together if they are to avoid the dreaded drop.

Carlisle on the other hand, will be pleased with two goals and a clean sheet, having saved their hopes of a play-off spot in a very mixed season for the CumbriansChris Beech should also be delighted that his starting striker can score, but also Toure coming off of the bench, as it shows good squad depth and variety.

  • Star man

​​​​​​​Former Derby County youngster Guy had a really impressive match. Despite giving away the penalty to Southend, the 24-year old recovered and didn't let his confidence take too much of a hit, making 15 accurate passes and 10 of them in the opposition half, constantly pressuring and not letting the Southend midfield have a second to think.