Eastwood earns Southend shot at a few dollars more

Southend United 1 Northampton Town 0 Southend win 1-0 on aggregate
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The Independent Online

A trip to Cardiff again beckons for Southend and their manager, Steve Tilson, but this time he will be hoping to bury past disappointment after his side overcame Northampton Town at Roots Hall last night to book a place in the League Two play-off final.

A trip to Cardiff again beckons for Southend and their manager, Steve Tilson, but this time he will be hoping to bury past disappointment after his side overcame Northampton Town at Roots Hall last night to book a place in the League Two play-off final.

Southend have been beaten by Blackpool and Wrexham in their recent visits to the Millennium Stadium, in LDV Vans finals, but Tilson is hopeful the club can end this bad run when they travel to Wales again on Saturday.

"Throughout the season we have show commitment and desire," said Tilson. "We will work as hard as we have always done and hopefully go one better this time because I think we deserve it.

"We worked really hard out there and I am hopeful that we can show how good we are."

Tilson was determined to make his side to impose their will on their opponents early on. His players responded to those instructions and, after a patient and measured opening, the midfielder Nicky Nicolau and the striker Fredy Eastwood came close with two powerful efforts.

Purposeful and confident, Southend were edging towards the breakthrough. There swift surges were met with little resistance by a Northampton side who, though lacking creativity, were at least looking to hit back on the break.

On 39 minutes, the Northampton midfielder Martin Smith picked out Andy Kirk, the striker lashing his right-footed drive past Darryl Flahavan but the wrong side of the post.

There was a sense of expectation as the teams came out for the second half, particularly after the disappointment of what some Southend supporters considered their team's failure to achieve automatic promotion. Tilson's team-talk was sure to have reminded his players of what was needed and within four minutes they had complied. Nicolau tumbled in the penalty area under the challenge of Chris Willmott, and Eastwood made no mistake as he tucked home the resulting spot-kick.

The deficit stripped Northampton of their remaining optimism, and against a side brimming with industry, they began to wilt. Che Wilson hit the bar on 54 minutes as Southend pushed to exploit their ascendancy.

Colin Calderwood threw on all his substitutions to try to find a way back. Charley Hearn wasted Northampton's best chance of the second half, his short-range free-kick failing to clear the defensive wall. His manager was not impressed as he stood on the touchline. Two minutes from time, Calderwood was positively seething as Eric Sabin's appeal for penalty was turned down and Northampton's hopes were dashed.

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