Norwood and Jackson share goals as Town get back on track
Kayden Jackson had a hand in all three goals as Town went back to the top of League One.
The striker opened up the Southend defence early on for James Norwood to give Blues the lead and then set up his partner in goals again midway through the second-half.
Jackson added Town’s third himself five minutes later with Southend responding through Emile Acquah late on but it was always only going to be a consolation.
Will Norris came in for his first league start for Town in one of five changes to the team that went down to Rotherham in midweek. Norwood returned to the attack, with Flynn Downes fit again after a hip problem and included from the off.
Southend, under Sol Campbell’s charge for the first time, had the ball in the net inside five minutes but Rob Kiernan’s header was judged to have been offside. Two minutes later Blues were ahead, Norwood latched on to Jackson’s ball over the top and made no mistake from 12 yards.
Downes picked up a yellow card that will see him suspended for the trip to Rochdale, Southend then responding with Elvis Bmomono whipping in a cross that just evaded Tom Hopper and Stephen Humphrys at the far post.
At the other end Danny Rowe was wide with an effort from distance with Mark Oxley off his line, the Southend ‘keeper beating Norwood to clear as the Town striker raced in, then Rowe tested Oxley with a low drive from 15 yards.
The injured Cole Skuse was replaced by Jon Nolan before the half hour, the substitute immediately testing Oxley with a left footer, the ‘keeper then denying Jackson who was first to the rebound.
Norwood spun and fired at goal from 25 yards but Oxley saved comfortably, Jackson seeing a shot deflected wide after good interplay, then Luke Chambers headed wide after Norwood had fed Luke Garbutt’s corner across goal as Blues held on to the advantage at the break.
Simon Cox had a shot blocked on the edge of the box after good work by Hopper set him up, Chambers heading clear from Humphrys’ cross as Southend started the second-half in positive fashion.
Garbutt hit the sidenetting with a 25 yard free-kick, James Wilson then entering the fray to replace the injured Kane Vincent-Young on the hour mark.
Wilson and Chambers did enough to stop Humphrys getting in, Rowe then replaced by Alan Judge in Blues’ final change.
Oxley prevented Mark Milligan diverting Jackson’s cross into his own net, Gwion Edwards cutting in from the left and just wide of the far post with a finish before Norwood grabbed his second on 70 minutes with a first time finish from Jackson’s pull-back.
Oxley couldn’t hold on to Nolan’s long range effort, Milligan mopping up as Town pressed for a third and on 75 minutes it came, Nolan fizzing a shot at Oxley and Jackson was on hand to slide in the rebound.
Norris saved well from Humphrys but on 83 minutes the ‘keeper was beaten, Acquah finishing from close range to claim his first senior goal and a consolation for the home side.
Southend: Oxley, Bwomono, Ralph, Milligan (Demetriou 85), Humphrys, Dieng, Hopper (Acquah, 70) Cox, Kiernan, Shaughnessy, Hutchinson. Subs not used: Bishop, Hyam, Goodship, Taylor, Rush. Booked: Humphrys, Cox.
Town: Norris, Vincent-Young (Wilson 60), Chambers, Woolfenden, Garbutt, Edwards, Downes, Skuse (Nolan 25), Rowe (Judge 67), Norwood, Jackson. Subs not used: Holy, Georgiou, Huws, Keane. Booked: Downes, Jackson.