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21:46 31st January 2012

Report: Southend 1 Town 4

A barnstorming start from Swindon saw promotion challengers Southend United swept aside in an enthralling away display from the Robins.

Quickfire goals from Matt Ritchie and Jonathan Smith put Town into a 2-1 lead before Jean-Paul Kalala reduced the arrears. Joe Devera then headed home the third before Billy Bodin came off the bench to slot home the fourth. Town boss Paolo Di Canio made four changes to the side that lost at Leicester City with Alessandro Cibocchi, Simon Ferry, Raffaele De Vita and Alan Connell replaced by Callum Kennedy, Jonathan Smith, Luke Rooney and Ronan Murray. The home side included former Town man Michael Timlin on the left hand side of midfield, with Elliot Benyon named amongst the substitutes.

It was the home side who had the first opening of the game with Wes Foderingham doing well to hold onto a low drive from right-back Sean Clohessy after a free-kick had only been half cleared with four minutes on the clock.

Town's first real foray into the Southend box was a telling one with the opening goal arriving on eight minutes. A long ball forward from former Southend middleman Alan McCormack, saw the defender's ball headed on by Paul Benson into the path of Murray. He strode ahead and after his shot had cannoned off the post, Matt Ritchie collected the loose ball to rasp home from the edge of the box to put the Robins into an early lead.

The dream Swindon start continued with a further spell of pressure which saw a second goal follow. A cross into the box from Ritchie was headed down at the back post by Joe Devera with Smith on hand to hammer the ball home from six yards out to double the Town advantage. Paul Sturrock's side responded with a low drive from Timlin which was well held by Foderingham on 22 minutes before McCormack was booked shortly after. The home side got back into the game with a 35th minute strike from former Yeovil midfielder Jean-Paul Kalala making it 2-1 on 33 minutes with a fine strike from the edge of the box creaping in at the far post beyond Foderingham. Town responded almost immediately with a corner from the right by Ritchie finding its way through a host of defenders to Joe Devera who headed home at the back post to make it 3-1 ten minutes before the break.

Sturrock made one change for the start of the second period with Bilel Mohsni stepping off the bench in place of Ferdinand. The Blues made a bright start with a volley from Liam Dickinson flying over two minutes into the second half. Di Canio made his first Town change on 50 minutes, with Billy Bodin on for Murray who moments earlier had cleared a downward header from Mohsni off the line. The change paid dividends soon after with Bodin netting his first ever Town goal. A low cross from the right by Ritchie was palmed away by Morris only as far as the Welshman who sidefooted the ball home from six yards before celebrating in front of the 458 Town fans behind the goal.

Southend rallied with a series of corners with Mohsni's header turned behind on 69 minutes with Town defending well under pressure. Timlin went into the book 14 minutes from time after a late challenge on Risser, a sign of the home side's frustration in the face of a professional Town display. With nine minutes of the game remaining Risser was replaced by Ferry after an industrious display from the Namibian in the heart of the midfield. A third and final switch soon followed with Raffaele De Vita stepping off the bench in place of Rooney. Victory sent Town into the top three in League 2, finishing the night in second just three points behind leaders Cheltenham Town. Make sure you are in the crowd to see Saturday's home clash with Burton Albion at The County Ground - because the promotion chase just stepped up another level.

Full-time: Southend United 1 Swindon Town 4

    Data provided by Press Association