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Jarvis goal is the sole high point in Gulls' humbling

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 22, 2012

RY SMILE:  Ryan Jarvis scores for United – but it was  a late consolation

RY SMILE: Ryan Jarvis scores for United – but it was a late consolation

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TORQUAY UNITED'S first goal for nearly six-and-a-half hours – it was scored by substitute Ryan Jarvis in the 51st minute – would normally have been some cause for celebration at Plainmoor on Saturday.

But since Southend United were leading 4-0 at the time, the reaction was distinctly muted.

Any chance that the Gulls had of staging an unlikely fightback was snuffed out only six minutes later.

Skipper Lee Mansell's dismissal was one of the easier decisions that referee Andy Davies had to make during an afternoon that United will want to forget.

Their unbeaten home league record was ended emphatically by a Southend side that beat them tactically, physically and in front of goal, where former Gulls loanee Gavin Tomlin and his strike partner Britt Assombalonga scored two goals apiece.

Tactically, where former Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Sturrock did his best to nullify the threat of United's leading scorer Rene Howe.

Physically, where Southend's big defence was never threatened.

And in front of goal, where Tomlin and Assombalonga enjoyed themselves hugely.

Goals change games of course, and Tomlin's tenth minute opener, fired under Martin Rice after he beat Kevin Nicholson on the turn, visibly buoyed Southend and undermined United.

They were still in it after a Nathan Craig free-kick hit the top of the bar in the 37th minute.

But three goals in the space of seven minutes later, the contest was over.

39mins...Assombalonga finishes a counter-attack with a shot in off Joe Oastler (0-2).

45mins...Assombalonga heads in Kevan Hurst's right-wing cross(0-3).

46mins...Tomlin finishes another breakaway, beating Rice off his line and Downes before tapping home (0-4).

During the interval Gulls manager Martin Ling had made a double-change – striker Jarvis and winger Niall Thompson for midfielders Craig Easton and Lathrope – but it never had a chance to work.

Jarvis' consolation goal, finished first-time from a telling, early cross by Thompson, was quickly followed by Mansell's red card.

Visibly frustrated, he went into a tackle on Assombalonga, missed the ball and took out the man.

Throughout it all, Sturrock's decision to post defensive midfielder Tamiko Mkandawire just in front of Howe, who was also marked by centre-backs Mark Phillips and Ryan Creswell, effectively isolated United's centre-forward.

United might well conceded more goals in the closing stages, and the sight of strikers with the pedigree of Freddy Eastwood and Barry Corr climbing off the Shrimpers' bench only underlined the gap in depth as well as strength between the two squads.

Ling thanked the Pop Side fans who did not voice their frustration, but said he understood the reaction of many home supporters.

"It certainly wasn't good enough. Southend showed us what it's all about and made us look very poor on the day," he said.

"That's down to me as the manager, the players and the coaching staff.

"But we've been here before and worked our way out of it, and we'll do it again."

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