Kennedy inspires Boro to victory over Southend

Ben Kennedy scores

Ben Kennedy scores - Credit: Archant

Ben Kennedy came off the bench to inspire Stevenage to a 4-2 win over Southend United at the Lamex Stadium.

Graham Westley relegated his teenage sensation to the bench despite scoring twice in Boro’s 3-1 victory over Hartlepool. Trailing 2-1, the 18-year-old, who this week signed a professional contract, came on in the 66th minute and won a penalty, which was converted by Simon Walton, before scoring the winner.

Just to cap a perfect day, he set up Dean Parrett for the fourth goal.

Charlie Lee replaced Kennedy in the starting line-up but the rest of the side that beat Hartlepool remainded.

Ahead of the game, Graham Westley said the Lamex Stadium pitch could provide an advantage to the hosts but, in truth, it hindered both sides, more so Southend, who tried to pass the ball on the turf. At times they played football that was pleasing to the eye but brought little in the way of chances.

Barry Corr had the Shrimpers’ two best opportunities: forcing a save out of Chris Day and then heading a Michael Timlin corner just over the bar. Apart from that, it was a quiet first half for Day who wasn’t called upon much but was quick off his line to deny Joe Pigott. Southend enjoyed more possession and pressure but the final touch was, on the most part, elusive or off-target.

Stevenage’s chances were also few and far between but they went into the break ahead, thanks to a fortuitous goal from Roarie Deacon. Playing at left back, Deacon received his own throw in, shifted the ball onto his right foot and whipped the ball into the box that evaded everyone and nestled into Dan Bentley’s bottom left corner.

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Phil Brown’s side stuck to their passing game and were rewarded early in the second half. Timlin, on the right touchline, played a cute ball inside to Worrall, which took two players out of the game. Worrall lifted a perfect ball to the back post for Pigott to volley home from 10 yards. After going into the interval behind, somewhat unjustly following an even half, it was a deserved goal.

There was no let up from the visitors and 10 minutes later, the 57th, it was two as Corr scored from the spot. It was an avoidable penalty but calamitous defending, and then a needless lunge on Worrall by Walton, who was booked, presented Corr with the chance and he took it.

Westley introduced Kennedy, in place of Lee, in the 66th minute and his impact was immediate as he won a penalty. The 18-year-old was tripped by Leonard’s trailing leg, the referee pointed to the spot and Simon Walton, sporting a head bandage after a first-half clash, sent Bentley the wrong way.

With his name already ringing around the ground, Kennedy grew his legend a little more with the winning goal. Substitute Calvin Zola collected the ball at the halfway line and slipped in Kennedy down the right. And, with poise far exceeding his years, the teenager surged into the box and coolly placed the ball into the far corner.

He then turned provider as he played in Dean Parrett to slide the ball under Bentley and seal an emphatic victory. The heavens opened after the fourth goal but it did little to dampen the mood around the Lamex, which has been lifted by Kennedy’s arrival on the scene.

Teams

Stevenage: Day, Dembele, Bond (Pett - 71), Whelpdale, Whelpdale, Parrett, Wells, Beardsley (Zola - 82), Lee (Kennedy - 66), Deacon, Martin. Subs: Beasant, Johnson, Conlon, Andrade,

Southend United: Bentley, White, Coker, Worrall, Timlin (Hurst - 75), Corr (Cassidy - 78), Bolger, Leonard, Deegan (Coulthirst - 86), Barrett, Pigott. Smith, Atkinson, Payne, Binnon-Williams.

Attendance: 3,918