Cox’s inspired hat-trick denies promotion chasing Portsmouth


A Simon Cox hat-trick saw Southend recover from being 3-0 down after half an hour to claim a point at Roots Hall in an enthralling 3-3 draw.

Chris Powell’s Southend made two changes coming into the fixture, experienced heads Michael Kightly and Michael Turner drafted in as the home side set up in a 4-4-2.

Kenny Jackett made three changes to the Portsmouth line-up, who can go level on points with second-placed Barnsley with a win, bringing Oli Hawkins, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Anton Walkes into the eleven.

Jackett surprised many as his Portsmouth lined up in a 4-4-2 and matching the Shrimpers, Hawkins and Omar Bogle leading the line.

Both sides were not in the best of form. Pompey had won just one in eight whilst Southend have triumphed in one of their last seven.

The Shrimpers started brightly and had the first chance of the game a minute in as Stephen McLaughlin forced Craig MacGillivray into a low save.

It was Portsmouth who opened the scoring with their first attack of the game on seven minutes. After good work from Bogle down the left the ball was whipped in by Jamal Lowe and parried by youngster Nathan Bishop. The ball fell perfectly for Bryn Morris to smash into the roof of the net from close range and give the travelling team the perfect start.

Portsmouth had breathing room before the 20 minute mark. After good play from debutant Solomon-Otabor the ball was eventually cleared by Southend high into the sky. Southend captain Sam Mantom failed to judge the flight of the ball which left the ball to bounce in the path of Ben Close, who thumped a volley from the edge of the box past Bishop on the day of his 100th Pompey appearance.

Ben Close struck a sweet volley to double Portsmouth’s lead after Southend failed to clear (Photo: Andy Wilkins)

Bogle almost grabbed a third but was denied by the offside flag as things looked to be going from bad to worse for Southend. Stephen Humphreys was forced off with injury and was replaced by Michael Klass as the Shrimpers were forced to change formation, leaving Simon Cox as their only forward.

It didn’t take long for Portsmouth to get three. Bryn Morris struck a low shot across Bishop to strike the far post and after a bit of pinball, Hawkins hooked home to put the game seemingly beyond reach within the opening half hour.

The Shrimpers did have one back five minutes later. A deep Sam Hart cross found Cox at the back post who headed past MacGillivray to perhaps give the home side a route back into the game.

Michael Turner had a great chance to narrow the deficit even further but could only curl wide from a good position as Portsmouth went in at the break with a two goal advantage.

Simon Cox gave Southend a glimmer of hope by making the scoreline 3-1 before half-time (Photo: Andy Wilkins)

Portsmouth were determined to not allow themselves to be victims of a Southend comeback, Bogle forcing a good Bishop save at the start of the second half.

McLaughlin shot low at the end of a nice Southend move as their extra man in midfield after the introduction of Klass allowed more possession to be claimed by the home side.

The Irish winger had another chance but failed to connect with his strike as the Shrimpers continued to push for the next goal which would firmly put them back in the tie.

Time was of the essence for the Essex based side as we entered the remaining 20 minutes.

With 14 minutes to play they had the chance they were looking for. After a Sam Hart cross looked for Cox in the box, Morris failed to clear and when Kigthly got to the ball first and Morris mistimed his lunge, the referee had no choice but to spot to the spot.

It was Cox to take with Chris Powell not bearing to watch. The former Premier League striker dispatched the penalty cooly with MacGillivray diving the wrong way. Southend had reduced the Pompey advantage to one as Cox claimed his second of the game and 14th of the season.

Cox tucks away his penalty to reduce the deficit to one (Photo: Andy Wilkins)

Chris Powell gave youngster Norman Wabo, who has 17 goals for the under 23 side this season, a chance to potentially snatch the headlines as he replaced Michael Kightly.

Ben Close had a chance for his second of the game but was denied by a brilliant Turner block before the game was flipped on its head.

Simon Cox, who was absolutely phenomenal all day, completed his hat-trick on 86 minutes. The ball was fed into Timothee Dieng who played a superb ball through to Cox. The 31-year-old then curled a wonderful effort into the far top corner to claim his first hat-trick for Southend and level proceedings.

What a comeback it was from Southend with time still for the home side to potentially snatch all three points. The work rate and finishing ability from Cox was to be admired as he inspired his side from an embarrassing defeat to an impressive turn around.

Portsmouth were not happy to lie down and accept defeat, Kenny Jackett’s side still pushing for the three points they thought they had secured after being 3-0 up after half hour.

Pompey captain Matt Clarke couldn’t get enough on a header late on as both teams leave Roots Hall with a point. Both managers may feel aggrieved that it’s not their side that takes all three; Pompey squandering an early lead whilst Southend gave the Hampshire team sloppy early goals through poor defending.

Simon Cox was undoubtedly the man of the match for Southend on the day as his hat-trick means that Southend against Portsmouth at Roots Hall finishes 3-3.

Southend United XI: Bishop, Bwomono, Turner, Moore, Hart, Kightly (Wabo, 81), Mantom (Hutchinson, 73), Dieng, McLaughlin, Humphreys (Klass,25), Cox.

Southend unused substitutes: Smith, Kiernan, Lennon, Kelman

Portsmouth XI: MacGillivray, Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Brown, Lowe (Vaughan, 89), Close, Morris, Solomon-Otabor (Curtis, 71), Bogle (Evans, 75), Hawkins.

Portsmouth unused substitutes: Bass, Haunstrup, Casey, May,


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