Clarke shines for Shrimpers with woeful Chelsea all at sea

Chelsea 1 Southend United 1

Peter Clarke, a hitherto relatively unknown central defender, yesterday scored the goal that accelerated a little more the unravelling of Chelsea's season and Luiz Felipe Scolari's grip on his job as manager. Another fixture is not what Chelsea require right now. However they were relieved, and Scolari admitted as much, given their faltering progress at home, that they travel to Roots Hall a week on Wednesday to try to rectify this embarrassing slip against a League One side.

"Are we out?" Scolari bridled when questioned about the paucity of the performance. "We did not win but other teams that lost today are out." True enough. But had another header by Clarke, minutes before his injury-time strike, on his 27th birthday no less, looped into the net, rather than on to the crossbar, then the unthinkable would have happened.

Chelsea, having exited the Carling Cup at home to Burnley, would have left this competition too. "We were unlucky we didn't win it," smiled the Southend manager, Steve Tilson. "No, I'm only joking." Really? But then the FA Cup has been a graveyard for Chelsea managers in the past. Last season, Avram Grant lost to Barnsley, away, and it was that result that all but ended his chances of remaining in charge.

Scolari bemoaned the missing of chances – and sure in the first-half there were plenty spurned, by Didier Drogba in particular – but quite where he got his "15 chances" wasted from was questionable. New blood is needed while Scolari still professes, publically at least, that he does not need a new striker. "I have strikers," he said, "many strikers". It sounded like a party line.

Maybe all this detracts too much from Southend's achievement. Low on confidence, they arrived in a far more timorous mood than their garish yellow strip and exuberant, 6,000-strong support demanded. It looked like shooting fish in a barrel as Joe Cole skipped around the defenders, Drogba brushed them aside and, just after the half-hour Salomon Kalou was left unchallenged, without having to move or even jump, to head home Frank Lampard's corner.

Chelsea's control was total. But not their concentration. Slowly, slowly the Shrimpers stopped shrinking and a turning point came when Johnny Herd hacked Juliano Belletti's header off the goal-line. It felt as if Chelsea started to settle for a single goal and, with that, Tilson sensed something. He made a bold, triple substitution while his players, the indefatigable Clarke in particular, continually threw themselves in front of challenges, before Herd hoisted a lob into the Chelsea area and Carlo Cudicini, lacking courage to impose himself, flapped. Clarke headed on to the bar.

It seemed that was it but Southend kept going. Herd scurried over to the other flank, sent in a long throw and Ricardo Carvalho inadvertently flicked it on for Clarke to thump home a header at the far post. It sparked delirious scenes but it wasn't over yet. Chelsea poured forward and a final opportunity fell to substitute Franco Di Santo. He should have headed home but allowed goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall the chance to also be a hero. He took it by tipping the ball away and preserving a precious, priceless replay.

Attendance: 41,090

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Man of the match: Clarke

Match rating: 6/10

Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments