Football: Boere's decisive blow dents Palace push

Southend 2 Crystal Palace 1
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Crystal Palace's season goes from bad to worse. Knocked out of the FA Cup on Saturday, they lost a match at Roots Hall last night which they had dominated for long periods. Having won only one of their last 11 First Division matches, Dave Bassett's team need to rediscover quickly their form of last autumn if they are to revive their challenge for a play-off place.

Southend, who had gone eight League games without a win, will see this as an important victory in their campaign to avoid relegation. Although they rode their luck, the Essex side took their chances well and showed the sort of spirit they will need in the coming months.

Individual errors have cost Palace several goals in recent weeks and the guilty party last night was their England Under-21 goalkeeper, Chris Day. He gifted Southend their opening goal after five minutes when he charged recklessly off his line in a vain attempt to beat Andy Thomson to a through ball. The Southend striker cleverly pushed the ball past him and from an acute angle wide on the left struck a pin-point shot into the empty net.

Dougie Freedman's 67th- minute goal put Palace back in the game, but Day's vulnerability was exposed again five minutes from time when Jeroen Boere rose unchallenged at the far post to head home a corner from just five yards. Boere, who joined Southend from Palace, had come on as a substitute only six minutes earlier.

Despite Day's errors, Palace could still have won the game comfortably. With Andy Linighan, their recent signing from Arsenal, making a confident debut in defence, Palace rarely looked in trouble and were able to attack in numbers.

Eighteen corners underlined Palace's domination, but their finishing was woeful. They scorned chance after chance as they regularly over-elaborated around the fringes of the penalty area. They even contrived to miss a penalty when Dean Gordon had his 18th-minute shot well saved by Simon Royce.

Freedman, making his first start for six weeks with Bruce Dyer relegated to the substitutes' bench, constantly tormented the Southend defence and his goal was a just reward for his efforts. He cleverly controlled Gordon's cross from the left before shooting into the corner of the net.

As for Southend, they could take heart from a resolute defensive display. Leo Roget, their young central defender, was outstanding and his performance gives Ronnie Whelan's team hope for the future.

Southend United (4-4-2): Royce; Harris, Roget, McNally (Nielsen, 65), Dublin; Byrne, Gridelet, Marsh, Hails; Thomson (Boere, 79), Rammell (Hanlon, 79).

Crystal Palace (5-3-2): Day; Muscat (Ndah, 89), Tuttle, Edworthy, Linighan, Gordon; Hopkin, Roberts, Veart (Dyer, 79); Freedman, Shipperley. Substitute not used: Quinn.

Referee: P Taylor (Cheshunt, Herts).