Matt Edwards
Tuesday 05 March 2019

Goals from Isaac Pearce and Junior Mondal weren’t enough to prevent Forest Green Rovers falling to defeat at home to Southend United in the Central League.

Norman Wabo helped himself to a brace to add to a strike from Harry Phillips to secure the 3-2 victory for the visitors.

It was another strong side named by FGR with the likes of Reuben Reid, Lee Collins and Lloyd James all named in the starting XI.

It was Reid with the first sight of goal in just the fourth minute as he created space for himself on the edge of the box but fired over the bar.

In the 10th minute a good save was required from Lewis Ward diving to his right to deny Southend's Isaac Hutchinson in the box after possession was cheaply given away.

It was the woodwork that denied Rovers in the 13th minute when Udoka Godwin-Malife made a driving run into the box and Harry Seaden was off his line well to deny him before Pearce fired off the woodwork from a tight angle on the rebound.

In the 17th minute Phillips got away down the left for Southend and found himself one-on-one with Ward but Isaiah Jones was back well to block the shot with the help of Ward for a corner which came to nothing.

Both sides were pushing for the opening goal and Pearce thought he had found it when Reid played a nice ball to him in the box after good work from Mondal but his shot was well saved by Seaden.

The breakthrough came the way of the visitors in the 22nd minute when Wabo had too much pace to drive past Jones down the right-hand side into the area before showing composure to beat Ward at his near post.

However, the lead was short-lived as just three minutes later Pearce played a nice one-two with Mondal on the edge of the box before the FGR forward side-footed his shot past the Southend keepers' left.

FGR had the bit between their teeth and went on the hunt for the lead and in the 33rd minute broke well from a Southend corner, Pearce being found in space close to the halfway line before threading through Mondal who was well denied by Seaden one-on-one.

It was the Southend stopper who was denying Mondal once more in the 41st minute after Reid played the pacey forward into the box, the Southend stopper reacting superbly to get down to his left and pull of the stop.

It was a cruel blow then on the stroke of half time when Rob Howard delivered into the box from the right and inside the six-yard box, Phillips somehow diverted the ball into the net off his back.

With James and Dayle Grubb making way at the break, Southend came out in the second half strongly and were only denied extending their advantage by the woodwork and some good goalkeeping from Ward.

In the 68th minute Ward was forced into a superb double save as he pushed Phillips’ shot from the edge of the box onto the right-hand post. The strike rebounded across the face of Ward’s goal and onto the left-hand upright before the FGR stopper had to be up and alert to Ba following up to deny him and win a goal kick in the process.

The woodwork came to the hosts rescue in the 72nd minute when Phillips floated a corner to the far post and it was half cleared by the head of Sam Hendy before being delivered back in again for Mitchell-Nelson to take a touch before his half-volley cannoned off the bar.

Southend were able to extend their advantage in the 81st minute when Wabo got his second of the game as Ward denied Hutchinson’s shot from the edge of the box but the Southend forward was on hand to fire a blistering shot into the roof of the net.

Mondal was able to make for an interesting end as he was on hand to react first to a good save to deny Reid and lift the ball into the net.

However, it wasn’t enough despite Pearce seeing a later effort cleared off the line.

Forest Green Rovers XI: Lewis Ward, Isaiah Jones, Lee Collins (Will Turner), Udoka Godwin-Malife (Sam Hendy), Ethan Hill, Lloyd James (Dan Ogunleye 45’), Ben Liddle, Junior Mondal, Isaac Pearce, Dayle Grubb (Daniel Bradshaw 45’), Reuben Reid

Substitutes: Lewis Thomas

Southend United XI: Seaden, Howard, Clifford, Pianim, Knock, Mitchell-Nelson, Batlokwa, Hutchinson, Ba, Wabo, Phillips.