Eastwood guns down Cobblers
By Mark Kendall
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Southend are in the League Two play-off final after a narrow 1-0 win over Northampton.Southend booked their place in the League Two play-off final after a narrow 1-0 win over Northampton at Roots Hall.
The prolific Freddie Eastwood grabbed the only goal of the two games with a second-half penalty to notch his 23rd goal of the season.
Northampton battled gamely but lacked the cutting edge up front to break down a resolute Shrimpers backline, although Southend were indebted to goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan who produced a stunning late save to deny Scott McGleish.
The visitors made a decent start and registered the first shot on target when Charley Hearn exchanged passes with McGleish before letting fly with a decent effort from 25 yards.
Southend responded with an effort of their own from range with Nicky Nicolau running from inside his own half before firing narrowly wide.
Eastwood got his first real sight of goal on 16 minutes after being played in following a clever bending run, but dragged his angled effort wide of the target.
The striker was involved again six minutes later when, from his pass, Adam Barrett dug out a far post cross to Mark Bently who saw his deflected effort tipped wide by Steve Harper.
Carl Pettefer saw a half-hearted penalty appeal waved away after going down in the box under challenge from Fred Murray, before the visitors wasted two excellent chances before the break.
The chances fell in quick succession, and to the one man Northampton would have wanted - Andy Kirk.
The striker first saw an effort from the edge of the box deflected narrowly wide under pressure from Che Wilson, but a better opportunity came moments later as the hosts struggled to clear following the resulting corner and, with a clear sight of goal, Kirk dragged a left-foot shot wide of target from 12 yards.
The only goal arrived on 49 minutes when referee Barry Knight pointed to the spot after Nicolau went down, somewhat easily, under challenge from Chris Wilmott.
Eastwood retained his composure and sent Harper the wrong way from 12 yards.
The lead was almost doubled when Wilson's hopeful cross from the left caught out Harper and bounced out off the crossbar.
In the closing stages Northampton poured forward in search of a leveller and Southend had to endure one or two scary moments.
Kirk was unfortunate to be penalised after pinching the ball from Flahavan as he prepared to clear, while Eastwood was denied another penalty claim.
Northampton then saw an even better shout turned down when Duncan Jupp appeared to bring down Eric Sabin, but The Cobblers knew it was not to be their day when Flahavan flung himself to his left to keep out McGleish's goalbound header and clinch his team a final date with Lincoln.