League One Safety claimed, but Shakers suffer defeat in the final game of the season
Tension was evident all around Roots Hall ahead of the game as both sides warmed up in the spring sunshine with both anticipation and expectation, not only for the result of this game, but for games and results elsewhere within EFL Sky Bet League One on the final day of the League One Campaign.
Lee Clark kept faith with the side that claimed all three points and kept a clean sheet against Northampton Town at Gigg Lane last weekend, with the added surprise of naming Danny Mayor amongst the substitutes. Callum Hulme dropped off the bench to be replaced by Will Ferry following his fine performance for the Youth team in the Lancashire FA Youth Cup Final at Gigg Lane earlier in the week.
Southend needed favours elsewhere to secure a Play-off spot, whilst the Shakers obviously needed Port Vale to lose, or at least equal this result here at Roots Hall and to at least equal Gillingham’s result at Northampton.
It was the home side that tested the nerves with the first effort on target, a stinging shot on three minutes from Ryan Leonard from the corner of the box that beat Joe Murphy but, thankfully, crashed off the post and out of play for a Bury goal kick.
The next half chance of the game came on ten minutes when an Andrew Tutte corner was played short to the corner of the box, Paul Caddis hit the ball on the volley but failed to find the target as his shot flew well wide of the target and out of play.
The home side were the next to test the Shakers resolve on 15 minutes when Simon Cox collected the ball on the half way line, using pace alone he managed to get past Leon Barnett, but his shot on goal lacked pace and direction and drifted harmlessly past the post for a Bury goal kick.
Southend took the lead on the 21st minute when a cross into the box was half cleared by the Shakers defence. The ball fell invitingly to Stephen McLaughlin who struck the ball home, from the edge of the box, with a left footed shot on the half volley.
GOAL: Southend United 1 Bury 0 (McLaughlin 21)
It took the Shakers 15 minutes to create their next chance on goal, a cross from Paul Caddis found James Vaughan on the edge of the box, after eventually controlling the ball and unable to turn to face goal, Vaughan stabbed the ball at a charging Andrew Tutte, but he was unable to get the ball under his control and fired a shot high into the stand and very wide of the target.
A long pass back to former Shakers loan ‘keeper Christian Walton could have brought Bury some reward because, as the ball fell to Walton, he took a very heavy touch and it rolled loose, but he just managed to retake control of the ball despite a heavy, but fair, challenge from James Vaughan and the home side got the ball clear.
With the home supporters celebrating every Bristol Rovers goal, the 577 visiting Shakers supporters spent most of the first half watching social media for updates on events at Fleetwood as both sides left the field at half time with Southend holding a 1-0 advantage at the break.
Half time: Southend United 1 Bury 0
Neither side made any changes at the break and it was the Shakers that kicked off the second period of the game, though it was the home side that had the first half chance with Fortune whipping in a stunning, zipping, cross into the Bury box inside 90 seconds of the game restarting though, thankfully, the ball flew across without anyone getting a touch and out of play for a goal kick.
A 48th minute Southend corner brought more worry for the travelling faithful as the ball was delivered into the middle, Vaughan leapt to clear the ball but missed it completely and McLaughlin tried his luck from distance from the resulting half clearance, but flashed his effort high over the bar.
Lee Clark brought on George Miller to replace the hard working Tom Pope on 50 minutes and, within a further five minutes, brought Danny Mayor into the game as he replaced Ryan Lowe.
A ball down the flank from Cameron Burgess on 61 minutes released George Miller into the box, but as the youngster became crowded out on the ball In the box, the home side quickly cleared the ball up the field. The ball fell kindly for Fortune on the edge of the area and it took a timely challenge from Burgess to see the ball pushed away to safety.
Moments later and a heavy challenge from Danny Mayor brought a yellow card for the Shakers midfielder, though the challenge left Leonard on his back needing lengthy treatment from the Southend medical staff.
A series of jinking runs from Danny Mayor on 76 minutes led to a Shakers free kick just inside the Southend Half, though the ball, when delivered, into the box brought an easy clearance from the home defence.
Southend should have doubled their lead on 80 minutes when a gift of a ball back into the Shakers box was latched upon by Marc-Antoine Fortune. His shot, from close range, cannoned off the chest of Joe Murphy, and as the ball fell kindly for Fortune his header, again, brought another excellent save from Murphy and the Shakers smashed the ball clear.
With Bristol Rovers scoring a third goal, at home to Millwall, Southend were suddenly placed into the final Play-off position and whilst the Pirates third goal was celebrated as strongly at Roots Hall as at the Memorial Stadium, a Bury goal would have changed everything – at both ends of the table.
Fortunately, for the Shakers, the Fleetwood v Port Vale game remained 0-0, as did Gillingham’s game at Northampton and both results meant that Bury’s League One status was secured for next season, despite their 1-0 defeat, with Vale condemned to League Two football next season as the Gills secured their safety by a single point.
Southend United: Walton, Thompson, Ferdinand, Atkinson, Timlin, Leonard, Demetriou, O'Neill (Amos 79), McLaughlin, Cox, Fortune (Robinson 82)
Subs not used: Nouble, White, Bexon, Hines, McGlashan
Bury: Murphy, Kay, Burgess, Barnett, Leigh, Moore, Tutte, Caddis, Lowe (Mayor 55), Vaughan, Pope (Miller 50)
Subs not used: Hulme, Brown, Cameron, Ferry, Burgess, Williams
Attendance: 9,245 (577)