Corr head second half winner
Barry Corr scored the only goal as Southend United secured victory over Cambridge United at a chilly R Costings Abbey Stadium on Boxing Day.
Corr met a cross from David Worrall to head home in the 62nd minute, and in truth it was the least the visitors deserved as they dominated play for long periods. Jack Payne hit the bar in the first half, and Kevan Hurst was also denied by the woodwork after the break, while for the U's Josh Coulson came closest with a header that was well saved by Daniel Bentley.
With Robbie Simpson suspended and Tom Naylor having returned to parent club Derby County, Richard Money made five changes to the side that drew at Tranmere last Friday. There were recalls for Richard Tait, skipper Ian Miller, Luke Chadwick and Sulley Kaikai, while Jordan Chiedozie was handed his home debut.
Southend lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, with the mobile quartet of Worrall, Atkinson, Hurst and Payne moving around behind lone striker Barry Corr, and it was the visitors who set the pace for much of the half, with United struggling to retain the ball. A half-volley from Payne struck the cross-bar, while Corr put a volley the wrong side of the post after a good cross from Worrall.
United occasionally looked dangerous on the break, usually when Chadwick or Kaikai got on the ball, and it was a teasing free kick from the latter that found Josh Coulson, whose header was superbly saved by Bentley, leaping high to his left to turn the ball over the bar.
As the half drew to a close the Shrimpers threatened again, Corr getting in behind the defence but delaying his shot, allowing Miller to get back and smuggle the ball behind.
Richard Money made a double change at the break, withdrawing front pair Appiah and Chiedozie in favour of Cunnington and Bird. And although United started the half well, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 62nd minute. Worrall delivered a decent cross from the right, and Corr got in ahead of Miller to plant a low header past Dunn, who got a hand to the ball but couldn't prevent it spinning into the net.
Kevan Hurst had an outstanding game for Southend, and could have doubled his teams lead when he beat Kaikai and fired in a low shot that hit the foot of the post. Leonard drew a good save from Dunn with an effort from distance, while for the U's Tait's chipped cross landed at the feet of Bird eight yards out, but some brave defending saw his shot charged down.
The U's were unable to create too much in the closing stages, though Cunnington slid in to meet a cross from fellow sub Wes Atkinson but was inches away from connecting. Money's men now have a visit to Stevenage to look forward to on Sunday.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Luke Chadwick
Cambridge United: Dunn, Tait, G.Taylor, Coulson, Nelson, Champion, Hughes, Chadwick, Chiedozie (Cunnington 45), Kaikai (Atkinson 66), Appiah (Bird 45). Subs not used: Norris, Nelson, Blair, B.Taylor.
Southend United: Bentley, White, Coker, Prosser, Bolger, Worrall (Weston 74), Atkinson (Timlin 78), Hurst (Coulthirst 85), Leonard, Payne, Corr. Subs not used: Smith, Clifford, Williams, Matsuzaka.
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 7,053 (away 1,292)