Category: Southend


League One 2019-20 season preview

Sunderland, so near after going so far last season, are fancied again with Portsmouth while Peterborough and post-Oyston Blackpool could challenge for play-off spotsIt was little solace to a sore Sunderland dressing room at Wembley in May when Jack Ros…


Southend sack Chris Powell in bid to stave off relegation to League Two

Shrimpers stand one spot above relegation zonePowell’s side had failed to win in 11 matchesSouthend United have sacked manager Chris Powell after tumbling down the League One table and into a relegation fight.The Shrimpers have not won in 11 games dati…


Southend sack Chris Powell in bid to stave off relegation to League Two

Shrimpers stand one spot above relegation zonePowell’s side had failed to win in 11 matchesSouthend United have sacked manager Chris Powell after tumbling down the League One table and into a relegation fight.The Shrimpers have not won in 11 games dati…


Ten Football League teenagers to watch in 2019 | Ben Fisher

From Leeds United’s Jack Clarke to Middlesbrough’s Marcus Tavernier, these 10 talented teenagers are quickly becoming fixtures in the future of footballAfter several game-changing cameos off the bench, the York-born forward was finally handed his full …


Ten Football League teenagers to watch in 2019 | Ben Fisher

From Leeds United’s Jack Clarke to Middlesbrough’s Marcus Tavernier, these 10 talented teenagers are quickly becoming fixtures in the future of footballAfter several game-changing cameos off the bench, the York-born forward was finally handed his full …


Chris Powell: ‘I ended up in Sainsbury’s with luminous shorts and tights on’

Southend’s manager is running the London Marathon on Sunday for charity and training has not gone without hiccupsFor Chris Powell the countdown to running Sunday’s London Marathon began while watching the last one. Alongside his children, Morgan and Ch…


Football League: 10-man Bristol City back on track with win over QPR

Robins win 2-0 despite Nathan Baker’s first-half red cardChriss Powell wins first match as Southend manager Continue reading…


Phil Brown exits Southend with board citing ‘unacceptable performances’

• Poor results and lack of squad discipline given as key reasons• Club one point above relegation zone after seven defeats in eightSouthend’s manager Phil Brown is set to leave the club after he was placed on gardening leave with the board citing unacc…


Phil Brown exits Southend with board citing ‘unacceptable performances’

• Poor results and lack of squad discipline given as key reasons• Club one point above relegation zone after seven defeats in eightSouthend’s manager Phil Brown is set to leave the club after he was placed on gardening leave with the board citing unacc…


Football transfer rumours: Sánchez to Manchester City for £20m in January?

Today’s tittle-tattle is surveying the wreckage

It’s been almost a week since the transfer window closed, and all over the country players are sheepishly returning to training. Virgil van Dijk is running extra hard at Southampton, and Diego Costa is jetting back to London, if only because Atlético Madrid are concerned that park football may not be enough to sustain his match fitness until January. Costa is not in Chelsea’s Champions League squad, but could throw his weight around in the Premier League once again.

Related: Alexis Sánchez attacks critics as Chile defeats follow Arsenal transfer saga

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League One and League Two: a fan from each club previews the 2017–18 season

If the fans who spoke to us are right, Bradford City, Bristol Rovers, Bury, Charlton and Southend United – and a few other clubs – will be in the play-offs

• Championship: fans preview the season

It would be nice to stay clear of relegation and have a comfortable season with a few big wins to keep us going. I’d like a number of our younger players to establish themselves here rather than being bought by Premier League clubs.

Continue reading…


Southend make it a dozen and counting despite Charlton’s late leveller | Jeremy Alexander

The 1-1 draw at Roots Hall extends the Shrimpers’ unbeaten run to 12 and ensures Phil Brown’s League One side start 2017 in sixth place

Southend United will not be counting chickens or even shrimps. They entered 2016 seventh in League One but fizzled to 14th in May. A Boxing Day win and Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Charlton Athletic, both at home, ensured sixth place this time and it would have been fifth but for an 89th-minute equaliser. Phil Brown, their manager, called it “a great advert for League One football and for the club”.

Ten seasons ago they had a one-off campaign in the Championship while Charlton were in the Premier League. Brown, now in his fourth full season, got them out of League Two at the second attempt. If his success in leading Hull City into the top tier for the first time in 2008 may have gone to his head, Roots Hall has grounded him. Black overcoat, open-neck white shirt and hair amok define a man seemingly comfortable and popular in more modest surroundings.

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Keshi Anderson scores on debut but Bolton are held by Southend

Phil Brown enjoyed his return to his old club – apart from being sent to the stands in the second half – though this was not quite the result high-flying Bolton were expecting as they looked to extend their lead at the top of League One. Phil Parkinson’s side have won four of their first five games and only drew the other when Charlton managed a late equaliser last weekend, but despite their lowly league position Southend took the lead with virtually their first attack and spent the rest of the game happy to sit on it.

Bolton managed an equaliser but not a great deal more. They were unable to secure all three points despite complete domination in the second half, which one trusts is not an omen for Sam Allardyce’s tenure as England manager. It is a while since Big Sam was at large in these parts, just as it is a while since Bolton were in the third division, though the manager is still a hero in the town. As attempts to bask in reflected glory go, the 16-page supplement in the Bolton Evening News marking Allardyce’s first game as England manager deserved some sort of award for ingenuity.

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League One 2015-16 fixtures: week-by-week list for the season

Relegated Wigan face opening day trip to CoventryBurton begin with home game against Scunthorpe8 August 2015: Burton Albion v Scunthorpe United, Chesterfield v Barnsley, Colchester United v Blackpool, Coventry City v Wigan Athletic, Crewe Alexandra v P…


Phil Brown shows class as Southend edge out Wycombe in play-off final

• Brown and counterpart Ainsworth hug after shootout drama
• Former Hull manager is aiming for return to Premier League
• Match report: Southend 1-1 Wycombe (Southend win 7-6 on pens) Continue reading…


Southend promoted after Dan Bentley’s shootout heroics against Wycombe

After 46 league matches and 120 minutes of nerve-jangling tension at Wembley, these two teams still couldn’t be separated. But the nature of playoff season means that there always has to be a winner and on this occasion it was Southend who will take away fond memories of their trip to Wembley. For Wycombe, there was just despair. Having finished level on points during the regular season, it was fitting that they provided such a thrilling finale, with Sam Wood the unlucky fall guy as his penalty was saved by Dan Bentley in the shootout. But it could all have been so different for the Southend goalkeeper, whose own goal in extra-time had looked like sealing victory for Wycombe until Joe Pigott’s equaliser in the second minute of injury time. This match had been billed as a battle of the two music-loving managers, with Southend’s Phil Brown back at the stadium where he guided Hull to victory in the Championship playoff final seven years ago. Brown had complained this week that too much of the focus before this game had been on his previous role and not his team, whose supporters far outnumbered their counterparts from Buckinghamshire.

Having taken a break from fronting a heavy metal band called Road to Eden to concentrate on his day job, Wycombe’s Gareth Ainsworth certainly scrubbed up well in his matchday suit. But his best-laid plans took a turn for the worse inside the first 10 seconds as Sam Saunders was caught by a tackle from Will Atkinson and went down inside the centre circle.

Continue reading…


Southend United v Wycombe Wanderers: League Two play-off final – as it happened

Southend equalise in the final seconds of extra time to force penalties and win an equally dramatic shoot-out 7-6, winning promotion to League One

8.37pm BST

Well, there we go. Southend climb up the steps to receive the trophy – which is lifted by captain John White. It was a match whose start was dramatic – Wycombe’s Sam Saunders being injured just two seconds in – and whose end was what the would kids call “peak play-offs”, Pigott’s fine equaliser coming in the second minute of added time at the end of extra time when it seemed that his team had run out of all steam. These two were pretty much inseparable and it feels so, so hard on Wycombe and the excellent Ainsworth. But they’ll be back. Congratulations to Southend and to Phil Brown – they’ll be a team to watch in League One, I’m sure.

Right, I’m spent and maybe you are too. Good job Southend didn’t give up when they felt that way, but that’s it for today. Thanks for reading – bye!

8.33pm BST

Just to confirm – the final score was Southend 1-1 Wycombe (Southend win 7-6 on penalties)

8.32pm BST

Brown is letting himself go now a little now though, leaping onto Bentley’s back and making for the TV cameras. And now he speaks:

“The last time with Hull was great but this is greater. I feel desperately sorry for Gareth. We made a pact to watch the penalties together, we’d been toe to toe….to get that equaliser in the 120th minute shows what we’re about. You’ve got to keep believing, that’s a true part of a manager’s job. And we kept believing right until the last kick of the last game of a 49-game season. But a special mention to Wycombe.”

8.30pm BST

And amid all this, how lovely from the two managers. Brown and Ainsworth chose to watch the spot kicks together, united in nerves and professional respect. When Bentley made the save, there was no wheeling away from Brown – there was a handshake, some words of consolation and an embrace. Quite touching, that.

8.28pm BST

The Shrimpers have done it! Bentley, who had been so unlucky for Jacobson’s goal, guesses correctly, dives to his left and two-hands it onto the post! Wycombe collapse to the ground. Southend….well…pandemonium. They are up!

8.27pm BST

Bentley tips Wood’s penalty onto the post!

8.26pm BST

This time Wood must score for Wycombe….

8.26pm BST

Great hit. 7-6 Southend.

8.26pm BST

Brown and Ainsworth are watching side by side. Here’s Bolger….

8.26pm BST

Blimey! Off the post…and in! 6-6!

8.25pm BST

Again, Wycombe have to convert and it’s Holloway this time. Bentley is slowing things up….

8.25pm BST

Sends Lynch the wrong way. 6-5 Southend.

8.24pm BST

Myles Weston now….

8.24pm BST

….who slots home and smiles with relief. 5-5!

8.24pm BST

Again the pressure is on Wycombe. It’s Jacobson…

8.24pm BST

Bash! Hammered home. 5-4 Southend.

8.23pm BST

Adam Barrett for Southend….

8.23pm BST

He does. Sends Bentley the wrong way. That needed some real cojones. Sudden death, 4-4.

8.23pm BST

Marcus Bean must score here…

8.23pm BST

Cool as you like! 4-3 Southend!

8.22pm BST

All square with one to take. Here is Timlin….

8.22pm BST

Saved by Bentley to his right! 3-3!

8.22pm BST

Matt Bloomfield, the veteran…

8.21pm BST

Low, clinical and Southend are still in this. 3-3.

8.21pm BST

Jack Payne now…

8.21pm BST

Never in doubt! Sends Bentley the wrong way. 3-2 Wycombe!

8.20pm BST

Paul Hayes, now, for the Chairboys.

8.20pm BST

Emphatic. 2-2.

8.20pm BST

Ryan Leonard for Southend…

8.19pm BST

Goal! Low to Bentley’s left and it’s 2-1 to Wycombe after two apiece!

8.19pm BST

Alfie Mawson to take Wycombe’s second…

8.19pm BST

SAVED!! Down the middle and Lynch blocks with his legs!

8.18pm BST

Now Ben Coker…

8.18pm BST

Scores! That was a vital one for Wycombe. 1-1. It might clear a few heads.

8.18pm BST

Now Peter Murphy for Wycombe….

8.17pm BST

He can…just! 1-0 in the shootout.

8.17pm BST

First up for Southend is Pigott, who must still be buzzing. Can he focus?

8.17pm BST

Southend will take the first penalty, or that’s what I think I just heard. The spot kicks will be taken towards the Wycombe fans. Can Wycombe get what has happened out of their heads?

8.15pm BST

This, right here, is why we love the play-offs. Nobody would pretend this has been a great game but the desperation is so high and the margins so high that, in these games, you never know what on earth is around the corner.

8.12pm BST

Penalties. My goodness. What an incredible finish. Southend seemed to have gone. They’d done nothing since conceding. Their fans were drifting out – TV pictures show that they’re running back up Wembley Way in their droves! Nobody looks as if they can believe what has happened.

8.11pm BST

120+4 min: I don’t believe it. I really don’t. Weston makes one last burst for the line. His cross is decent and half-headed away. Pigott stretches up a leg, brings it down beautifully inside the box, and slips a left-footed shot into a motionless Lynch’s bottom corner from 15 yards! Play-offs!

8.09pm BST

Oh my……

8.08pm BST

120+2 min: Into the box from Coker again, headed down by Bolger, cleared….

8.07pm BST

120 min: Was that it? Coker gets a rare crossing opportunity from the left, Pigott runs onto it…but can’t direct his header on target 12 yards out. Two added minutes to play.

8.05pm BST

118 min: If I know the play-offs, there’s one more bit of significant action in this yet….

8.04pm BST

117 min: Then Southend get a free kick on the left. Put it in the box! Nope – Timlin tries to play it short…to nobody.

8.03pm BST

116 min: Corr heads down cleverly though, but Pigott can’t get onto it…..and then Holloway breaks superbly for Wycombe! He’s in the clear! This could finish it! But, one on one with Bentley, he inexplicably tries to check onto his right and is tackled by a recovering defender. Oh dear….

8.01pm BST

115 min: Now Leonard is booked for some touchline stroppiness. Southend have gone, it seems.

8.01pm BST

114 min: White is furious to concede a free kick after a wrestle with Holloway. That looked harsh. Wycombe bide their time over the free kick and Wood is booked as a consequence. Little football going on here now, much to Wycombe’s benefit.

7.59pm BST

112 min: Gareth Ainsworth is furious with something Graham Coughlan, the Southend coach, has said. Pointing and shouting on the touchline, with third parties trying to intervene.

7.58pm BST

111 min: Yennaris’s race is run. Peter Murphy’s begins.

7.57pm BST

110 min: A bit of chaos in the Wycombe box though, a couple of high bounces and sliced clearances, and Lynch does well to rise high and take the ball. Now Yennaris has cramp, goes down and that eats up a bit more time.

7.56pm BST

109 min: The Chairboys have started this half as they ended the last one though – firmly in control. Southend have shown nothing since conceding.

7.54pm BST

107 min: Wycombe seem to be going for the corners whenever they get the ball now. It’s a bit early. Holloway had a chance to hare towards the box just then and went straight to toy around by the flag. Risky.

7.52pm BST

Ainsworth gees up the Wycombe fans. Brown turns away chewing gum frantically. We begin again.

7.51pm BST

Do the Shrimpers have one last push in them?

7.50pm BST

105+2 min: Brave block from Pierre as Southend threaten, then Wycombe counter through Craig and seem to have a man over, but again they’re too conservative and the chance goes.

7.49pm BST

105+1 min: Coker bundles Craig over stupidly by the right corner flag. What was the need? Wycombe prefer a spot of keep ball to a cross though, which seems like a wasted opportunity to go for the throat.

7.46pm BST

104 min: Mawson is down, to boos from the Southend fans. He’s clutching his face after Corr…well….headed it. This takes the sting right out. Mawson is up and I think he’s ok.

7.45pm BST

103 min: But Wycombe have responded well to going a goal up, and the ball is spending most of its time inside the Southend half. Brown is exhorting frantically.

7.44pm BST

101 min: Lynch comes out to claim ahead of Corr, when for a second you wondered whether there’d been a breakdown in communication between him and Bean.

7.42pm BST

100 min: What do Southend have now? This is going to be desperate stuff for 20 minutes, I suspect.

7.41pm BST

98 min: Southend bring Jack Payne on for Worrall.

And oh, that probably will be an own goal – I think the ball was bouncing out before it hit the unfortunate goalkeeper. That was Jacobson’s fine work all day long though. And quite something given that he really should have conceded a penalty in the second half.

7.39pm BST

97 min: That. Was. Perfect. Coaxed over the wall, up and down, off the underside of the bar…..and the ball bounces into the net in slow motion! It may just have hit Bentley in the way in, unless there was some particularly wicked spin on it, so perhaps a pedant might call it an own goal. But who cares? It’s a wonderful strike, and Wycombe have the breakthrough!

7.38pm BST

Yes he will!!!!!

7.37pm BST

95 min: Holloway dances past Timlin, or tries to but is tripped 25 yards out. A free-kick just to the right of centre. Will Jacobson have a go?

7.35pm BST

93 min: That was a bright start from Wycombe. Southend retaliate but Bolger’s header loops up for Lynch to catch. Can’t remember a serious save the youngster has had to make.

7.34pm BST

91 min: And Hayes wastes a good chance now! A decent ball in from the right, a free header, a mistimed jump and he should do far better than head miles over.

7.33pm BST

91 min: Hayes has a dig immediately but it’s a long way wide.

7.33pm BST

Courtesy of Wycombe.

7.32pm BST

Ok, let’s do this. Bean is being re-booted, the rest of the players are getting ready for the final 30. Might Weston be particularly important as legs tire?

7.27pm BST

Extra-time it is. Plenty of effort, energy, physicality, few real chance although Pierre could have won it late on. Both sides have had little spurts in the ascendancy but nothing too convincing. You’re missing the start of Eurovision, ok? Even if you’re at one of those house parties.

7.25pm BST

90+4 min: Bean is up now, so we’ll continue.

7.23pm BST

90+2 min: It’s cleared. Hearts in mouths here. But play is halted now, with Bean down in the box and requiring attention. That will probably see us through to extra time.

7.22pm BST

90+1 min: Long throw by Leonard, a header by Corr…and off Mawson for a corner on the left….

7.22pm BST

90 min: Three added minutes here….

7.20pm BST

89 min: Mawson fouls Pigott, who had spun him on the halfway line. Very much a “take the yellow card” challenge.

7.19pm BST

88 min: Closest effort of the game! Pierre thuds a header towards goal and Bentley has to tip over athletically! It was to neither side of him, but fine reactions nonetheless. So nearly a winner for Wycombe.

7.18pm BST

87 min: One mistake now and you’re toast. Bolger has to head over his own bar for a corner after a ball from the right is flicked on. The corner, from the right, is inswung by Jacobson but headed away at the near post.

7.17pm BST

86 min: 38,000 inside the stadium. Hats off.

7.17pm BST

86 min: Wycombe make a change. Ephraim – perhaps their most threatening player, so maybe he’s tired – is replaced by Steven Craig, who is more of a striker.

7.15pm BST

84 min: The corner comes to little but Southend keep pressing. Weston gets on the ball properly for the first time but his cross, from the left, is deflected to Lynch.

7.14pm BST

83 min: Good delivery from Worrall and an excellent header behind for a corner by Pierre.

7.14pm BST

83 min: Bean is sticking very, very tight to Weston. Too tight this time, it’s a foul and a free kick wide on the left….

7.13pm BST

81 min: Ephraim crosses again but nobody is there to attack it. You sense we might just see a late twist here though. It has opened right up….and as I write, the increasingly-involved Holloway finds Wood in a fine position inside the box on his left foot, but he totally miskicks!

7.11pm BST

79 min: Now this could be interesting. On for Southend comes the lightning-quick winger Myles Weston, replacing Atkinson.

7.10pm BST

79 min: Pigott takes advantage of a poor clearance from Bean and tries to curl one left-footed from 25 yards, but he is well wide again.

7.09pm BST

77 min: Southend come now, and Worrall finds Corr down the line. If he can just get his head up, Pigott is completely free in the box! But instead he continues into the area, tries to shoot and Pierre blocks.

7.07pm BST

76 min: Perhaps indeed….Hayes then has Wycombe’s clearest chance, fed inside the left of the area by Holloway and, attempting to wrap his right foot round the ball, not getting enough power and seeing Bentley save to his left! Then Wood has a shot repelled by the defence. Is this game coming to life now?

7.06pm BST

75 min: Wycombe come forward though, and Ephraim claims a handball when his cross is blocked by White on the edge of the area. Indeed it is a handball, but it was pretty much ball-to-hand and I’m not sure they were getting that one after the previous incident. Shortly afterwards, Yennaris has a long-range blast blocked. Perhaps I spoke too soon.

7.04pm BST

73 min: Corr heads down and just for a moment it seems as if Pigott will be free to convert…..but Hayes is back, tracking superbly again, to snick it away! Southend look by far the more likely winners if this is to be decided in the 90.

7.03pm BST

71 min: Maybe the Shrimpers will be fuelled by injustice. They win another flag kick and it’s played short to Timlin. His left-footed, inswinging cross goes beyond Bean and to an unmarked Barrett….who maybe isn’t expecting it, as he heads off target again from a really presentable chance!

7.01pm BST

69 min: Oooooh….should Southend have a penalty? I think so! Leonard crosses from the left and Jacobson pushes Timlin in the back. He goes down and I’ve just seen a replay – there are no two ways about that, it’s got to be a pen! It was a blatant and quite silly shove. Instead Southend get a corner, and Barrett heads it wide. That’s a big mistake from referee Simon Hooper, I think.

6.58pm BST

67 min: It can’t do Southend too much harm that Pigott has gone up top to take some of the burden off Corr and occupy the centre-backs. McLaughlin didn’t play badly but service and support for the striker were lacking.

6.57pm BST

66 min: Pigott, who looks “rangy”, turns and runs towards the box but wallops well over. A few signs that Southend are getting a bit of room though.

6.55pm BST

64 min: Chance for Corr! Southend find space to construct a move inside the Wycombe half and Worrall crosses from the right. Corr is totally unattended but perhaps the ball is a little behind him, and it’s 15 yards or so out. His header is dived upon by Lynch.

6.53pm BST

62 min: It’s a good, clipped ball by Jacobson and Mawson gets onto it….but nods well wide under Bolger’s attention.

6.52pm BST

61 min: Corner for Wycombe, after a handy ball from Hayes is kept alive by Ephraim and headed behind by Bolger….

6.50pm BST

59 min: One of Joe Pigott’s middle names is “Wozencroft”. And here he is.

6.49pm BST

58 min: Both sides look slightly more threatening in open play than in the first half, but it’s still nip and tuck. Southend are about to bring on striker Joe Pigott, on loan from Charlton, to replace McLaughlin.

6.47pm BST

56 min: Leonard tries a volley after a free kick is headed out to him, but Bean takes the force of it.

6.46pm BST

55 min: Jacobson’s left peg has a swish at it but it’s a metre over.

6.45pm BST

54 min: Gareth Ainsworth, it has just been pointed out, has changed his suit. He still looks dapper, even if his “lucky suit” doesn’t look quite as perfectly cut as his cup final suit. He is now wearing a blue shirt too. He might get luckier now as Corr has fouled Ephraim in a shooting position….

6.44pm BST

53 min: Bean nips in ahead of McLaughlin but is caught and sent flying. Appeals for a card, which is a shame, but nothing doing.

6.42pm BST

50 min: Close! Atkinson glides through the midfield and feeds McLoughlin, overlapping on the left. His low cross is an invitation for Worrall to tap in but Jacobson is over superbly to intervene at the last. Then Atkinson tries a volley inside the area but shins it into the air. Better tempo now though.

6.39pm BST

48 min: Timlin, resplendent in Petr Cech-style protective headgear, has been very quiet but is among a couple of Southend players to see crosses cleared. Then he feeds McLoughlin on the left but Bean stands his ground and Wycombe advance.

6.38pm BST

47 min: And a good start from Wycombe! Ephraim receives the ball inside the area, jinks onto his left foot and his shot is deflected wide of the near post for a corner. From the flag kick, Mawson heads well over.

6.37pm BST

So there you go.

6.36pm BST

Here we go, the teams are back out. Phil Brown has lips pursed and arms folded. He’s having a chat with one of his substitutes – and it’s a strong bench at that, with the likes of Myles Weston in waiting. No changes though.

6.23pm BST

I said this could be a cracker and, well, it’s not. But it still might be. And fair play to Wycombe for dusting themselves down after losing one of their best players – Saunders – literally a couple of seconds in. Southend held sway for a while after that, threatening from some set pieces and seeing a Corr header ruled out for Bolger’s needless foul, but Wycombe scrapped their way back in and were marginally the better side as the half closed. Nobody’s created a lot though, and it’s still impossible to pick a winner.

6.21pm BST

You’re all going to miss the start of Eurovision if this goes the full length I’m afraid, as seems likely just now. Nil pois apiece.

6.20pm BST

45+2 min: Not too many risks being taken here. Drifting towards the break.

6.18pm BST

45 min: Atkinson is, slightly mystifyingly given that he’d seemed to be under close attention, given room to cross and it’s another peach, right into the six-yard box but impossible for Lynch to come for. Mawson heads away though. We’ll have three extra minutes here.

6.15pm BST

43 min: The ball remains a hot potato but you fancy Wycombe’s technique slightly – very slightly – more in advanced areas.

6.13pm BST

41 min: Now Wood receives the ball 25 yards out and cracks one not far over. Wycombe are now in the ascendancy, if anyone is.

6.12pm BST

40 min: Wycombe get a rare chance to run into space and the ball is worked to Ephraim, who looks their best bet at the moment. His right-footed cross is another teasing one and Hayes readjusts cleverly to jab a close-range effort at Bentley. That was good.

6.10pm BST

38 min: So many fouls. Although, before committing his latest one, Hayes did force Bolger to head away another cross.

6.09pm BST

37 min: Yes, this has become A Scrappy Match. Wycombe are winning a few free kicks in the Southend half and that’s it. Already looks like a game that may be decided by one goal – and could even go all the way to that Brown/Ainsworth sing-off.

6.07pm BST

35 min: Things have broken up rather after that spell of Southend pressure, which Wycombe won’t mind. It’s fairly frenetic and clear openings are coming a comfortable second to niggly fouls.

6.05pm BST

33 min: At some length, the free kick from that Bolger foul is taken and it’s not bad from Ephraim. It goes out of play beyond the back post but he clearly feels that Pierre should have tried harder to get onto it.

6.04pm BST

32 min: Preston and Middlesbrough are both watching this one in the stadium, although Aitor Karanka is twiddling on his phone and looking bored. Let’s hope his lot can thrill us on Monday, then.

6.03pm BST

30 min: Corr seems to be barged off the ball by Pierre as he chases a through pass, but nothing is given. Shortly afterwards, Bolger scythes Wood down agriculturally as he makes headway in the Southend half and takes a yellow card.

6.01pm BST

28 min: Not a million miles away from Pierre there though, as he flicks a deep free kick wide. It actually came off Barrett last and should have been a corner.

6.00pm BST

27 min: Wycombe still struggling to pose many questions. Southend are notoriously stingy at the back but you wonder how much they’re missing the guile of Saunders.

5.57pm BST

25 min: “Holloway, wherever he is, just hit him,” shouts a voice from the Southend bench. That voice will refer to the Wycombe dangerman Aaron Holloway, who has been quiet enough so far without being “hit”.

5.56pm BST

24 min: And a goa….no! Great ball over from Worrall and an accurate header into the net at the far post from Corr – but Bolger, in front of him, had pushed Yennaris and the foul is given! Quite rightly too, but I don’t think Yennaris was going to get that ball. Corr might justifiably be annoyed with his team-mate there.

5.55pm BST

23 min: Now McLaughlin gets away from right-back Bean, who should have offered a more convincing challenge, near the corner flag and Hayes, coming back to assist, barges him over. Yellow card, free kick….

5.53pm BST

21 min: Mawson gives away a free kick and it’s played quickly to Coker, whose cross is headed out as far as Bolger, who is a centre-back but seems to be getting all the chances at the moment. Southend will wish he hadn’t had that one, as he slashes the ball anywhere but on target.

5.51pm BST

19 min: Wycombe get a foot or two on the ball but Jacobson passes it out of play on the left. A few no-quarter-given challenges flying in now.

5.49pm BST

17 min: Another Southend corner swung out by Atkinson, another Bolger header. This one is brave, stooping to get ahead of Mawson’s flying boot, and not too far wide. Decent chance once he’d got there. Shrimpers on top at the moment.

5.48pm BST

16 min: “The nonsensical playing of the national anthems at the play off finals is just one of many reasons why I’m so glad that my beloved Bury went up automatically,” writes a seething Bernard Walsh. “I hate the play offs, they are a monstrosity, but at least both Wycombe and Southend are decent sides, it would have been so much worse if Stevenage or Plymouth had been in with a chance of going up after enjoying underwhelming seasons.”

5.47pm BST

15 min: Saunders’ injury was to his calf, apparently. Devastating for him.

5.46pm BST

14 min: Southend win a third corner after that, and Atkinson outswings it from the right onto Bolger’s head, but the downward effort bounces to Lynch.

5.46pm BST

13 min: It’s flicked away by Yennaris for a flag kick on the opposite side. This time Atkinson’s inswinger is pawed away by Wycombe’s 20-year-old goalkeeper, Alex Lynch.

5.44pm BST

12 min: Good footwork from Hayes out on the right sees him dink a cross into the centre but Bolger flings a head onto it. Southend counter and seek out Corr, who gets Mawson one-on-one but has to settle for a right-sided corner.

5.43pm BST

11 min: McLaughlin tries a clip over the top this time but nobody is reading it. One or two good early signs for Brown’s team though – Corr has won a couple of headers against Mawson.

5.42pm BST

10 min: Half a sight for Hayes from 20 yards but his shot is scuffed. High-paced and fairly direct stuff here since that early delay.

5.41pm BST

8 min: Gareth Ainsworth looks quite the smartened-up old rocker in his suit and slicked-back hair. He might be worried as McLaughlin gets the chance to cross from the left after a Bean mistake, but the ball is wayward.

5.39pm BST

7 min: Now Worrall plays a good cross in of his own for Southend, swung in from the right, but Aaron Pierre gets it away.

5.38pm BST

6 min: Good from Wycombe here though as Hogan Ephraim, on the left flank, puts in two dangerous balls – the first one of which is cleared desperately as Hayes lingers.

5.37pm BST

5 min: How will Wycombe – and indeed this game – settle down now? That was an extraordinary, unfortunate start.

5.36pm BST

4 min: No, Saunders is going off. That’s such a cruel twist of fate. The ball was played back to him from kick-off and Atkinson, chasing in, just caught him from behind. It didn’t look an awful tackle but that’s it – Wycombe will be forced into an early change. We’ve had a three-minute stoppage here. And here, to replace Saunders, comes long-serving stalwart Matt Bloomfield.

5.34pm BST

1 min: An early problem for Saunders, who was caught within literally a second of kick-off by a rabidly eager Atkinson and is receiving treatment. He’s been very important to Wycombe, this isn’t good – he’s limping.

5.33pm BST

Good luck, all.

5.28pm BST

And here comes the national anthem. Ainsworth and Brown both belting it out tunefully.

5.26pm BST

The teams will be introduced to a selection of suits, now. Shouldn’t be a minute or two.

5.25pm BST

And here they are. Wycombe fans hold up dark and light blue cards and make a nice-looking display at one end; Southend supporters hold up scarves and flags to create a sea of yellow at the other.

5.24pm BST

The teams are in the tunnel. Wycombe in their usual blue chequers, Southend in yellow. Looks like a decent crowd – considerably bigger than the 14,000 who watched Fleetwood beat Burton last year, for sure. Not long now….

5.19pm BST

In Wycombe’s team too is Nico Yennaris, also on loan from Brentford, who is a right-back or midfielder (latter today I think) and had a decent runout in the Premier League for Arsenal against Manchester United a few years back. Canny use of the loan market might just prove a critical factor in this game.

5.16pm BST

It would be nice to hear your thoughts. Who will win? Which manager has the edge in the dugout and/or down the mic? Tell us.

5.12pm BST

Dangermen today? Barry Corr scored 15 goals in the league for Southend; Paul Hayes, with 14, was Wycombe’s top marksman. They will be well supported by the likes of McLaughlin and another loanee – Brentford’s Sam Saunders, who has been superb for Wycombe.

5.07pm BST

Goal action here from that 2-2 draw at Roots Hall in March:

5.04pm BST

Wide man Stephen McLaughlin, the Nottingham Forest loanee, is the one change in the Southend team that you saw earlier by the way. He replaces Joe Pigott. McLaughlin came off the bench to score the vital second goal against Stevenage nine days ago.

Wycombe are as you were – or as they were anyway – in the second leg against Plymouth.

4.59pm BST

If past football results are your preferred harbingers for footballing success or failure, stat up on this: Wycombe beat Southend by a whacking 4-1 in December, albeit the Shrimpers were reduced to 10 men in the second half, and the teams drew 2-2 in Essex three months later.

4.52pm BST

In the event that the two managers can still not be separated, Phil Brown wins – and consequently Southend are promoted – with this:

4.50pm BST

In the event that today’s play-off final is tied after 120 minutes, the winner will be decided via the medium of song. A panel will judge between these two videos:

4.35pm BST

Team vs @wwfcofficial: Bentley, White (c), Bolger, Barrett, Coker, Worrall, Atkinson, Leonard, Timlin, McLaughlin, Corr. #BluesAtWembley

Subs vs @wwfcofficial: T. Smith (GK), Prosser, Weston, Payne, Deegan, Cassidy, Pigott. #BluesAtWembley

4.33pm BST

TEAM NEWS: Lynch, Yennaris, Jacobson, Mawson, Pierre, Saunders, Bean, Wood, Ephraim, Holloway, Hayes. #WYCvSOU

Subs: Horlock, Bloomfield, Craig, Murphy, McClure, Kretzschmar, Onyedinma. #WYCvSOU

4.28pm BST

The play-offs are lovely, aren’t they? Lovely if you’re a neutral. If you’re not, they’re generally a sort of skewedly entertaining hell. I know this myself from just a week ago, but we’ll not go there. Instead let’s go to Wembley and the first of this season’s one-off, impossible-high-stakes shootouts. And this one, the face-off for a place in League One, looks too close to call.

Meet Southend, who missed the chance to go up automatically when they dropped the ball against Morecambe on the final day of the league season but fully deserved the semi-final win over Stevenage that brought them here today. That wasn’t without its own bit of play-offishness though: deep into injury time, with the scores level, Michael Timlin crashed a penalty onto the bar at Roots Hall and it seemed as if the fates were conspiring against Phil Brown’s team. They had been the better side on the night though, and scored twice in extra time to erase any regrets. Now they have the chance to make sure their five-year stay in the bottom tier is extended no further.

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Phil Brown wants Southend to make headlines against Wycombe Wanderers

The manager is tired of fielding questions about previous employers Hull City and is fully focused on Saturday’s League Two play-off final
Dave Beasant on the brink of Wembley history Continue reading…


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