Southend prevail in penalty shootout in play-off final
In what was a thrilling play-off final, Southend United won on penalties in the League Two play-off final. The game went to extra time following two entertaining halves, with Southend goalkeeper Daniel Bentley making some heroic saves in the goal. However he was the reason Wanderers took the lead in the 95th minute, a cracking free-kick from full back, Joe Jacobson hit the bar only to rebound off Bentley and into the goal. Wycombe were seconds away from getting back into League One, but Joe Piggott produced late drama scoring in the last minute, sending the game to a shootout.
Wycombe goalkeeper Alex Lynch, who was making just his third senior appearance saved the second penalty from Ben Coker, but when Matt Bloomfield, who replaced the injured Sam Saunders in the first half, missed the fourth penalty and both the fifth were scored, it went into sudden death. Once again both sides converted with Cian Bolger scoring the 15th penalty of the shootout. Bentley tipped Sam Wood's effort onto the post to end the Shrimpers five year wait to get into the third tier.
It was heartbreaking for Wycombe boss Gareth Ainsworth who last season avoided relegation to the Conference on the last day of the season thanks to a final day win to Torquay United. They finished fourth in the table, with Southend finishing a place below in 5th and reached the final after beating Plymouth Argyle 5-3 on aggregate. Ainsworth said after the game, "It's bitterly disappointing for us. We worked so hard to get here and to lose, especially on penalties is a kick in the teeth for sure. But of course we'll work hard next season to make sure we're the ones that get promotion."
-Wycombe 'gutted' over the loss at Wembley-
Meanwhile the play-off winning manager Phil Brown said, "Oh it's absolutely fantastic that's all I can say. We've really fought to get here and to ultimately win the final is amazing and we're now just going to focus on next season and make sure we can survive and once again make the fans happy. We've got to give it to Wycombe, they gave us a tough game and were unlucky not to win the game in the end." With that Wycombe will now mark their fourth year in League Two following relegation back in the 2011/12 season.