Southend United 2 Coventry City 3: Adebola deepens Southend gloom

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The Independent Football

Dele Adebola marked his return to Coventry City's starting line-up with the winning goal of five as his side lifted themselves into the top half of the Championship table. The defeat kept Southend in the relegation zone, and will not have improved the mood of their manager, Steve Tilson, who was denied permission to talk to Norwich about their managerial vacancy this week.

Southend went into the game in the bottom three and without a win in six. They took the early initiative, with Matt Harrold shooting wide in the fourth minute. Coventry, having lost three of their last four games, were also in need of a confidence boost and Michael Doyle - one of five players restored to the starting line-up - soon headed over Adebola's cross.

However, Southend should have taken the lead in the 10th minute. Simon Francis, celebrating his 100th League appearance, set up Mark Gower, whose shot from 18 yards was saved by the Coventry goalkeeper, Andy Marshall. Moments later Kevin Maher was also thwarted by Marshall, before Leon McKenzie saw his header parried by Southend's goalkeeper, Darryl Flahavan.

The sides continued to trade chances until, on the half hour, Freddy Eastwood broke the deadlock. The Coventry defender Matt Heath was deemed to have fouled Steven Hammell in the penalty area, and Eastwood scored from the spot.

Coventry needed some inspiration to bring them back into the match and it came from their captain, Stephen Hughes. The one-time Arsenal midfielder scored his first goal in two years on 42 minutes with a deflected 25-yard shot.

Colin Cameron then scored his first goal for Coventry, slotting home from the penalty spot two minutes into the second half after McKenzie was fouled by Francis. Southend got back on level terms seven minutes later when Eastwood outpaced the visiting defence before producing a neat finish for his second - but Adebola's opportunistic strike after Southend failed to clear ensured Coventry took the points.

Southend: Flahavan; Francis, Prior, Barrett, Hammell, Hunt (Campbell-Ryce, 86), Guttridge, Maher, Gower, Harrold (Hooper, 80), Eastwood. Substitutes not used: Collis, Clarke, Paynter.

Coventry: Marshall; Heath, Page, Ward, McNamee, Hughes, Cameron, Doyle, Hall, Adebola, McKenzie. Substitutes not used: Osbourne, Thornton, Kyle, Tabb, Hutchison.

Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire)