Shrimpers seal promotion
By Graeme Bailey. Last Updated: 28/05/05 5:29pm
Freddy Eastwood inspired Southend to a 2-0 victory over Lincoln in the League Two play-off final, after extra time at The Millennium Stadium.
The Essex side triumphed thanks to goals in either half of added time from Eastwood (pictured) and Duncan Jupp.
Eastwood opened the scoring after 105 minutes as he scrambled home in archetypal goal poaching style and he then created the second with a fine run as Jupp found the back of the net.
Lincoln had started the better, but the longer the game progressed Southend always looked the more likely winners.
The opening period had been a dour affair with Lincoln having the better of the possession.
Simon Yeo had a goal ruled out for offside on 26 minutes and television replays showed the assistant referee was rather zealous with his flag as the Lincoln man was onside.
Lincoln almost opened the scoring midway through the opening period after an error from Southend keeper Daryl Flahavan saw him punch the ball into the back of Ben Futcher and it needed a goal-line clearance from Mark Bentley to deny The Imps.
After failing to register an effort in the first half, Southend began the second 45 brightly and Eastwood had two great chances to break the deadlock.
His first effort was well blocked, but the second saw him completely miss the ball when unmarked just 12 yards out.
Yeo tested Flahavan on the hour, but it was still Southend looking the more likely and the busy Bentley fizzed a shot wide.
Francis Green, Gareth McAuley and Richard Butcher all went close for Lincoln as they pressed late on.
In the final minute of normal time, Southend had very good calls for a penalty waved away as Bentley again surged into the box and was clipped but his appeals were in vain as the referee blew for full time.
Moments into extra time and The Shrimpers were again denied a decent shout for a spot kick as Futcher charged down an Eastwood drive with his hands raised - but again referee Martin Atkinson waved the appeals away.
Nicky Nicolau had the first real chance of extra time and he was unlucky as he twisted and turned on the edge of the area before firing a right footed shot just wide of the post.
Substitute Lawrie Dudfield then saw a rasping drive scrambled clear by Alan Marriott as Southend began to dominate proceedings.
The resulting corner saw the deadlock finally broken and it was Eastwood who blasted home from just two yards after Matt Bloomer failed to clear from Adam Barrett's near post flick-on.
Despite going ahead, Southend did not sit back and let Lincoln get any time on the ball.
Indeed it was Southend who looked more likely to grab another and they did so just five minutes into the second period of extra time.
Again Eastwood was the catalyst as he broke into the Red Imps half, beat three challenges before playing Jupp into the area and the Scottish full back fired home his first ever goal for Southend to seal victory for The Shrimpers.
Derek Asamoah flashed one over the bar for Lincoln, but he and the rest of City's side knew it was far too little, far too late as Keith Alexander's side failed to make it through the play-offs for the third successive season.
| ||Lincoln City||Southend United|
|Shots on target||8||6|
|Shots off target||6||6|
Sky Bet League 2
|6||Newport County AFC||20||34|
|20||Dagenham & Redbridge||20||21|