Former striker marks his return to action by downing Grecians
It is one of the immutable rules of football then, when you come up against a former player, they will score against you. To be fair, it does not happen often for Exeter City, but it did on Saturday as Barry Corr came off the bench, scored and helped inspire Southend United to a 2-1 victory at Roots Hall.
The Irish target man arrived at St James' Park in the summer of 2009 with a reputation for being injury prone after spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon Town under Paul Sturrock, now his mentor at Southend. But during 12 months in Devon, it was suspension that saw him miss games as three red cards for violent conduct during his time with the club amounted to 12 games spent on the sidelines.
He joined Southend on leaving Exeter and, after a prolific first season, injury struck again. His last game before Saturday came 17 months ago, 30 April 2011, to be exact.
Just seven minutes after his rousing introduction from the bench, Corr rose to head in Sean Clohessy's cross to level the scores up at 1-1. He may not have warmed the hearts of the Exeter faithful, but, make no mistake about it, Corr is very much idolised by the Southend supporters, who often sang his name.
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Until then, Exeter had controlled the League Two contest. The first half was even, but the better chances fell the way of the Grecians. Unfortunately for them, the usually reliable Jamie Cureton had left his shooting boots at home. The striker could have had a first-half hat-trick, but it was not to be his day.
When Exeter did find a way past teenage goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, who was making his first start for the Shrimpers, it came from an increasingly likely source. Scot Bennett got on the end of a Matt Oakley cross to bag his second goal of the campaign and an impressive fifth in only 21 starts for the club. Not bad at all for a defence-minded midfield player who started out as a centre-half.
It was no more than Exeter had deserved at that stage of the game, but their failure to go on and kill the game off came back to haunt them. They saw plenty of the ball and put together some decent moves, but the one criticism was that they did not attack and penetrate the Southend penalty box often enough, or with purpose. Nor did they test the young debutant between the sticks.
As it was, Southend went on to win, following Corr's equaliser, with a goal in the dying minutes. Freddie Eastwood played the ball wide to Chris Barker and made a run to the back post. Barker duly returned it to the ex-Coventry man, who had continued his run and nodded the ball into the ground and into the net to complete the turnaround.
Even then, Exeter had chances to force something from the game, but Arron Davies failed to get his two efforts on target in stoppage time.
The defeat was Exeter's first on their travels this season, but there was plenty to be positive about. Danny Coles and Pat Baldwin were imperious at the heart of the Grecians' defence and Tommy Doherty offered plenty of protection in front of them along with some midfield bite and no little skill.
Eyebrows were raised when he was announced as a summer signing, but he has done more than enough to show why Paul Tisdale was so keen to bring him to St James' Park with some superb displays so far for the club.
Cureton has also enjoyed a fine start to the season, but Saturday was not his day. He volleyed an early chance wide when he would perhaps have been better off crossing for the on-rushing Jimmy Keohane and a similar opportunity found the side netting moments later.
His best chance came after a fine move ended with Jimmy Keohane teeing up City's six-goal striker, but his 18-yard effort was a whisker wide of the far post.
Southend had barely threatened until midway through the half when Britt Assombalonga, on loan at Roots Hall from Watford, pulled the ball back to John Spicer, but his shot sailed over Artur Krysiak's crossbar.
The second period was much the same as the first with Exeter creating the better chances, but they dried up after Bennett had given them the lead. Cureton made way for John O'Flynn as Tisdale bit the bullet and took him off with the striker still carrying a slight hamstring strain, but it was Southend's substitutes, Corr and Eastwood, that were to go on and make the more telling contribution.