National League: Southend United 2 Bromley 0
JOHN CHUBB at Roots Hall
What a difference several months can make.
Earlier this season Southend United – struggling to adjust to life outside the Football League for the first time in more than a century amid off-field shenanigans – seemed to be heading for a third successive relegation and possible oblivion.
Having offered his services in their hour of need, Roots Hall legend Stan Collymore was drafted in as Head of Football Operations.
Phil Brown’s (frankly disatrous) second spell as manager was brought to an abrupt end, a new management structure was put into place and popular former club captain Kevin Maher was recruited as head coach.
With the lifting of an inconvenient transfer embargo, new faces have been recruited to the playing staff and the club’s on-field fortunes have dramatically improved.
This match saw Maher’s men extend their unbeaten National League run to eight matches, with a win against high-flying Bromley in front of a bumper home crowd.
It was Roots Hall’s thickest gathering since October 2019, when Ipswich Town were the visitors in an EFL League One fixture.
Matt Dennis and Nathan Ralph had early efforts for Southend before a careless back pass from Ralph at the other end nearly allowed the visitors to take the lead, but a superb challenge from Blues goalkeeper Steve Arnold narrowly prevented George Alexander from giving Bromley the lead.
Tom Clifford and Harry Cardwell both had scoring opportunities for the home side, but the match remained goalless at the interval.
Just after the restart the deadlock was broken when a Sam Dalby shot bounced the left post, and Norwich City loanee Dennis was on hand to fire home the rebound for his seventh goal in nine games.
And just three minutes later, Southend doubled their lead when a Clifford corner found the head of Shaun Hobson, who nodded the ball past Bromley keeper Mark Cousins to make it 2-0.
Bromley had a spell of creating goalscoring opportunities with Liam Trotter and Luke Coulson both having efforts on goal, but on both occasions the excellent Arnold was equal to the challenge and the two early second-half goals proved enough for the Blues to take all three points and climb to 13th place in the table.
Southend United (Head Coach: Kevin Maher): Steve Arnold, Kacper Lopata, Shaun Hobson, Nathan Ralph, Jason Demetriou (Leon Davies 90), Noor Husin, Will Atkinson, Tom Clifford, Matt Dennis (Harrison Neal 66), Sam Dalby, Harry Cardwell.
Bromley (Manager: Andy Woodman): Mark Cousins, Chris Bush, Omar Sowunmi, Corey Whitely, Byron Webster, Luke Coulson, Jude Arthurs (Liam Trotter 59), Billy Bingham, Connor Parsons (James Alabi 46), Michael Cheek, George Alexander (Mason Bloomfield 53).
Attendance: 8070 (including 121 from Bromley)