Kilkenny grabs winner in Southend goalfest
AFC Bournemouth under-21s came out on top of an entertaining 4-3 Central League Cup win at Southend United.
Jordan Zemura, Jaidon Anthony and Christian Saydee netted to put the Cherries in the driving seat before the hosts fought back through a Matt Rush hattrick to level the scores at Boots & Laces training ground.
However, Gavin Kilkenny’s impressive goal 10 minutes before time secured the victory.
The hosts started brightest, forcing Cameron Plain into action after just four minutes, the keeper saving from a powerful header inside the box.
The performance of both goalkeepers was crucial in the opening period. Owen Bevan found himself free from a corner and fired an effort at goal from a tight angle, the Southend stopper making an important block.
The home ‘keeper made an even more impressive save moments later when Zemura found space in the box, firing towards the far corner only for a strong right hand to send it behind.
Plain was equally impressive at the other end and made a double save to stop Southend from opening the scoring.
A forward won the ball at the edge of the box and tried to round the stopper but he remained big and made a block before getting to his feet quickly to reach the follow up.
The Cherries did eventually make their pressure count in the final stages of the first half, Kilkenny’s near-post corner was met by Zemura and the wing-back diverted it beyond the ‘keeper.
Shaun Cooper's side doubled their lead almost immediately, good pressure presenting an opportunity to Saydee in the box and he was composed enough to cut it back to Anthony for the tap-in.
The home side pulled one back early in the second half, Dinesh Gillela certain he was fouled by a Southend attacker but the referee waved play on and Matt Rush tucked home from inside the box.
Saydee restored the two-goal advantage just moments later. The forward’s driving run won a free-kick at the edge of the box.
Anthony stepped up, his effort was tipped onto the bar but Saydee was alert to shift the ball onto his right foot and drill home.
However, Southend continued to cause problems and Rush netted his second from inside the box, bundling the ball over the line following a clipped ball across goal.
They had the chance to level the scores when Cameron Plain crashed into a Southend forward within the box. Rush stepped up and sent Plain the wrong way to secure his hat-trick.
Nonetheless, the Cherries continued to play positively and were rewarded with the winner through Gavin Kilkenny.
The Irishman picked up the ball in midfield, drove to the edge of the box and smashed a left-footed effort into the top corner.
It was a fitting finish for Kilkenny who had been very impressive in the centre of the park across the 90 minutes.
Anthony almost wrapped up the win in the final stages, racing onto Kilkenny’s through ball but saw his drilled effort fly wide of the far post.