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We take our medicine and take it on the chin, boss Cooper after Rovers blow chance to go top

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CALMNESS personified, Forest Green boss Mark Cooper refused to panic after his side blew the chance to top the table.

Nathan Ferguson scored a spectacular long-range goal to help Southend rise off the foot of the League Two table and deny Forest Green, with a surprise 3-1 away victory.

Shaun Hobson’s sumptuous first-half volley and Tim Dieng’s strike after the break was capped by Ferguson’s 70th minute thunderbolt.

Jamille Matt pulled a goal back for Rovers four minutes from time on a chastening night for Mark Cooper’s side.

Resurgent Southend opened the scoring after 20 minutes – defender Hobson thumping in a volley beyond a static Lewis Thomas after the ball dropped to him on the edge of the box from a partially cleared Kyle Taylor free-kick.

Rovers had to wait until the 45th minute to muster their first shot in anger – Odin Bailey inducing a gloved response from Mark Oxley.

Southend made it 2-0 when Simeon Akinola drove into the box for Dieng to curl home in the 55th minute.

And Ferguson’s searing shot from distance which flew into the net was the pick of the goals with 20 minutes to go.

Matt’s 12th goal of the season from a Jake Young cross with four minutes to go was scant reward for Rovers as Southend moved one point above the drop zone.

After winning three league games on the spin, boss Mark Cooper refused to press the panic button with a measured response to a surprise defeat, he said: “Sometimes it happens, players just need to dust themselves down. If we look too much into it, you will end up topping yourself, so we must move on.  

“We didn’t commit, and you’ve got to win a lot of personal battles and we were  far from  our levels tonight.   

“We take our medicine and take it on the chin. I haven’t put any pressure on the players and not even discussed our league position, we only talk about the game in front of us, but full credit to Southend.” 

Matt’s 12 goal of the season from a Jake Young cross with four minutes to go was scant reward for Rovers as Southend moved majestically out of the drop zone. 

Meanwhile, Southend boss Mark Moseley was ecstatic after his side’s shock victory, he said: “We see that in them every day and it’s nice to see it coming together a little bit. It was a good performance from us, and it had to be. Forest Green would have gone top if they beat us tonight and they play a very good brand of football. We were organised and we got what we deserved. 

“Everyone worked hard for each other. Shaun Hobson has a moment in him. I had him on loan at Weymouth and he scored a couple of belters for them too. He’s got that moment in him and it was a clean strike. Fergie’s was a clean strike, but we’ve seen that already for him at Port Vale. 

“We asked a lot of questions of them. Emile’s (Acquah) header just went wide in the first half. We had more crosses and shots, and we asked more questions, but we need to continue that. We expect that level of performance from ourselves.” 

After winning three league games on the spin, boss Mark Cooper refused to press the panic button with a measured response to a surprise defeat, he said: “Sometimes it happens, players just need to dust themselves down. If we look too much into it, you will end up topping yourself, so we must move on.  

“We didn’t commit, and you’ve got to win a lot of personal battles and we were  far from  our levels tonight.   

“We take our medicine and take it on the chin. I haven’t put any pressure on the players and not even discussed our league position, we only talk about the game in front of us, but full credit to Southend.” 

Meanwhile, Cooper faces a potential defensive selection crisis after Chris Stokes was taken off as part of the three changes at half-time, and the club captain is set to miss a few weeks of action with a thigh strain. Dan Sweeney will miss the rest of the season after receiving scan results on a knee injury, which forced him off during the 4-3 win over Oldham.

Forest Green Rovers (4-3-3): Thomas, Godwin-Malife, Stokes (Richardson 45), Moore-Taylor, Cargill; Hutchinson (Collins 45), Adams, Whitehouse (Wagstaff 71); Bailey (Young), Davison (Matt 45), Cadden.

Southend United (4-3-3): Oxley, Bwomono, Hobson, White, Clifford; Taylor (McCormack 71), Dieng, Ferguson (Demetriou 88); Hackett-Fairchild (Holmes 88), Akinola (Goodship 88), Acquah (Nathaniel-George 80).

Referee: Lee Swabey.

Star man: Jordan Moore-Taylor

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