Southend United 6; Tramore Rangers 1
Four goals inside the opening 22 minutes, including a hat-trick by Lee Russell, proved too much of a handicap for Tramore Rangers on Sunday morning in Southend Park.
The visitors to Ballybeg began brightly and the first goal came somewhat against the run of play but when the hosts scored the first goal of the game the entire course of the contest changed. Southend went into the game rock bottom with just three points and they badly needed this result. Relegated from the Premier League last season, many people expected them to be the team to catch in Division 1A but their start to the season left a lot to be desired.
This victory, only their second of the campaign, will lift the spirits within the club. Tramore Rangers have also got an overall total of six points from their half-dozen games played in what is a topsy turvey league, although Grannagh are setting a blistering pace at the top with 16.
Tramore Rangers looked the brighter outfit when the match got underway and they went close after five minutes when Gary Morrissey forced a fine save from Cliff Kearney.
The home goalkeeper turned Morrissey’s shot from 30 yards around his left upright. Alan Harrington then went close with a glancing header following a cross by Niall Jackman.
The Southend opener had an element of luck about it. Lee Russell let fly from 25 yards but when his fierce shot took a deflection off Rangers defender Cathal Duffy goalkeeper Killian Burns was left wrong-footed and the ball finished up in the back of the net.
That goal arrived on 11 minutes and three minutes later Rangers found themselves two down and again it was Lee Russell who scored. Mark Phelan found Daniel Phelan with a great pass from the middle of the park and he crossed from the left and Russell ghosted into the Rangers six-yard box to head powerfully past the helpless Burns.
Lee Russell turned provider on 16 minutes. He moved down the right flank before pulling the ball back from the endline and Dylan Murphy headed home unmarked at the back post.
Eoin Purcell had a half-chance to pull a goal back for the visitors after 19 minutes but his shot on the run, after meeting a pass from Morrissey, went wide.
The roof fell in completely on the visitors on 22 minutes when Lee Russell completed his hat-trick. Duffy fouled Dylan Murphy just outside the penalty area and Russell gave Munster Under-17 panelist Burns no chance with a well-struck free kick.
To their credit Rangers kept battling and made Cliff Kearney work on 28 minutes when Morrissey met a pass from Eoin O’Keeffe. Substitute Simon Power cracked in a free kick from 30 yards on 34 minutes and when the ball ran loose to Morrissey after coming back off the Southend wall he made no mistake from 10 yards.
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