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16:59 8th August 2009


Town gained a good point in their opening game of the 2009/10 League One season, coming from two goals down to draw with hosts Southend United at Roots Hall.

The game looked to be escaping Town after a first-half penalty from Lee Barnard and a second-half strike from the impressive Franck Moussa put the home side two goals up, but a change in strike partnership worked wonders for the Terriers and goals from Anthony Pilkington and debutant Jordan Rhodes (pictured) gave Town a share of the spoils.

One of the downsides for Town was the dismissal of Michael Collins late in the game, but despite this it was the 1,300 travelling fans that could be heard at the final whistle.

The sizeable travelling support were in good voice as the first game of the 2009/10 season got underway and Town were on the attack as early as the 12th minute. Robinson laid the ball out to the left flank, where Robbo played a clever ball back out to the right for fellow winger Pilkington; his low cross was intended for one of the two strikers, but instead struck the outside of the near post before rolling to safety.

The home side showed they carried their own attacking threat three minutes later when striker Laurent pounced upon a poor pass from Collins before advancing to the edge of the box. However, his shot was deflected over the crossbar by the diving Antony Kay.

The Terriers had a lot of possession in Southend's half of the pitch in the early stages but wingers Roberts and Pilks found home full-backs Francis and White up for the challenge.

BOOKING - Home defender Matt Heath was booked by referee Cook as early as the 10th minute for a late challenge on Theo Robinson just inside his own half. From the resulting free-kick, Town worked the ball to the right side where Pilks bent a long range effort just over the crossbar.

Southend were then awarded a penalty in the 13th minute by the officials after a foul by Williams. Home winger Moussa sent a deep cross into Town's area from the left flank where midfielder Anthony Grant managed to get the wrong side of the full-back and the defender did seem to visibly tug at the home player's shirt.

GOAL - Up stepped striker Lee Barnard - so often the scourge of Town in recent seasons - to send Smithies the wrong way in dispatching the ball into the bottom left corner.

The referee then had more business to attend to in the 17th minute when Andy Butler put in a strong challenge on striker Laurent. The big defender definitely won the ball, but seemed to also catch the striker with his tackle and the Southend medic immediately called for the stretcher.

SUB - Laurent was unable to continue and was replaced by James Walker.

BOOKING - Butler was soon becoming the pantomime villain for the home crowd and was booked in the 23rd minute for a tug on substitute Walker's short as he tried to run away from Town's defence.

Robbie Simpson was the next player to be called over by Mr. Cook after his trailing foot caught 'keeper Mildenhall's head as he came out to collect a loose ball, although sensibly the striker was not shown any cards.

Town crafted a good breakaway attack two minutes later after Roberts played the ball into space for the speedy Robinson to chase down the left channel and although the striker did well to cut back inside, he could only roll his shot from twenty yards into the hands of the goalkeeper.

Pilkington side-footed a tame effort straight at the home custodian in the 27th minutes after Robbo had done well to cross into the box before home skipper Barrett had a nervy 31st minute, unintentionally flicking a long throw from Peltier inches wide of his own far post.

A really positive run from the halfway line to inside the penalty box from Michael Collins was only halted by a last ditch challenge from full-back White in the 34th minute.

BOOKING - Antony Kay was booked for dissent by the referee a minute later after disputing a free-kick decision given against him too vigorously.

Town created their best chance of the game immediately afterwards, but striker Simpson spurned the chance. Pilkington did brilliantly to beat Southend man Moussa on halfway before racing away down the wing and pulling a low ball back to the penalty spot, but the onrushing striker placed his side-footed effort over the bar when unmarked.

Franck Moussa slapped a long range volley towards goal with three minutes of the half remaining that forced Alex Smithies into a good save to his right side, with the talented youngster gathering the ball in at the second attempt.

A brilliant run down the left hand side from Robinson towards the end of the half saw the striker beat two defender for pace before pulling the ball back to Collins, but the midfielder's attempted shot from twelve yards hit Robbie Simpson in the stomach as it looked to be arrowing towards the far corner.


Lee Clark made no substitutions during the half-time interval and Town kicked towards their own fans hoping to find a way back into the game, but the first man to have a shot was Southend left-back John White - he fired a 30-yard effort high and wide of Smithies' goal.

Town went on the attack in the 48th minute when a good patient passing move concluded with Williams crossing to the near post, where Robbie Simpson flicked a header just wide of the far post.

Southend midfielder Alan McCormack then seized upon a loose pass out of defence from Peter Clarke before striking a 25-yard shot towards goal that Smithies dealt with comfortably.

McCormack ballooned an effort over the bar when at full stretch in the 53rd minute.

GOAL - Southend scored their second goal of the game in the 56th minute through winger Franck Moussa after some messy play from the Terriers outside their own penalty area. Peter Clarke, Michael Collins and Antony Kay all failed to clear the ball out of their own half, allowing McCormack to steal in and play the ball to his left for Moussa; the midfielder advanced into the box before slotting the ball between Smithies' legs and into the goal.

SUB - Lee Clark wasted no time in ringing the changes, making his first substitution of the season in the same minute. Newest signing Jordan Rhodes replaced Robbie Simpson in attack.

SUB - The second substitution soon followed, with Lee Novak replacing Robinson.

McCormack was more of a pivotal figure in the game in the second-half and put another shot wide of goal in the 63rd minute.

Town just couldn't get it together in the final third, with the last pass of every move hitting a Southend player or going slightly astray.

Smithies did well to see and claim a cross-come-shot from right back Francis in the 66th minute that somehow evaded the host of bodies in the penalty area and was drifting into the far corner of the goal.

It looked like Town had pulled a goal back in the 70th minute after good build-up play involving Peltier and Pilkington; the latter played a clever reverse pass into the box for Novak, whose pull back across goal took the goalkeeper out of the game. However, just as Michael Collins slid in to put the ball home, right-back Francis cleared the ball off the line in amazing fashion.

GOAL - Town did pull a goal back in the 71st minute through winger Anthony Pilkington. Fellow winger Roberts produced the assist, putting in a deep cross from the left that flicked off the head of defender Heath before falling to Anthony, who hooked the ball home on the volley when unmarked at the far post.

The game came to life immediately after the goal, with Barnard being denied a shot by a brilliant Clarke challenge at one end before Novak stung the goalkeeper's palms at the other end with a rasping drive from 18 yards out.

Kay hit a snapshot just over the bar of 'keeper Mildenhall with fourteen minutes remaining as Town started to turn the screw on the home side.

GOAL - The equaliser followed soon afterwards - in the 79th minute - with debutant Jordan Rhodes grabbing the goal at close range. Another deep Roberts cross from the left found the head of Pilkington, whose nod across goal found Novak in space at the post; he headed the ball back across the face of goal for fellow substitute striker Rhodes, who gleefully smashed the ball home in front of his new supporters.

BOOKING - Jordan was booked for taking his shirt off during the ecstatic celebrations.

Lee Novak almost put Town ahead following the restart, but sent his curling effort over the crossbar from the edge of the box.

SENDING-OFF - Michael Collins received the first red card of his career in the 83rd minute following a small scuffle on the far side of the pitch involving Adam Barrett. A free-kick was awarded against the Town midfielder and in the aftermath, Collins must have done something to warrant a straight red card from referee Cook.

SUB - Lee Clark immediately withdrew Gary Roberts, sending on Tom Clarke as his replacement.

SUB - Southend made their own first sub in the 85th minute, replacing Barnard with veteran striker Dougie Freedman.

Town switched to 4-3-2 in Collins' absence. Pilkington went narrow in midfield, joining Kay and Tom Clarke to form a central midfield trio behind front two Novak and Rhodes.

SUB - Steve Tilson made his second substation in the 87th minute, replacing midfielder Jean-Francois Christophe with Kevin Betsy.

Town survived a late penalty shout in added time when the ball appeared to strike Lee Peltier's hand inside the area and gained a point after a battling performance.


Town's Team (4-4-2):

Alex Smithies; Robbie Williams, Andy Butler, Peter Clarke (c), Lee Peltier; Gary Roberts (Tom Clarke 85), Michael Collins, Antony Kay, Anthony Pilkington; Theo Robinson (Lee Novak 59), Robbie Simpson (Jordan Rhodes 56)

Unused Substitutes: Matt Glennon, Nathan Clarke, James Berrett, Lionel Ainsworth

Southend Booking: Matt Heath (10)

Town Bookings: Andy Butler (23), Antony Kay (36), Jordan Rhodes (80)

Town Sending Off: Michael Collins (83)

Attendance: 8,059

Visitors: 1,351

    Data provided by Press Association


    Town was the first club to win three successive league titles in 1926. Only Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have matched this feat.