Southend Utd 2 Coventry City 3

By Lee Cordon

Goals by central midfielders are like buses for Coventry City. They wait all season for one and two come along in the same match.

Skipper Stephen Hughes' first goal since December 2004 and Colin Cameron's penalty helped the Sky Blues to only their second away win this campaign.

But it was Dele Adebola's close-range strike with ten minutes left that eclipsed a double by Freddy Eastwood.

Coventry manager Micky Adams reverted to three centre-halves in a bid to reverse his side's dreadful away form which had seen them lose six out of seven.

For the opening 29 minutes the plan was working. South-end had started pretty well but City's defence was limiting the home team to very few shooting chances.

Robert Page was his usual dominant self while Elliott Ward and Matt Heath looked assured either side of the Welshman.

Coventry midfielder Michael Doyle latched on to Adebola's cross but headed over the top.

Adebola was back in the side in place of #1 million signing Kevin Kyle who was consigned to the bench after suffering with illness all week.

The former Birmingham City striker's hold-up play and aerial presence offered Coventry a good outlet.

The home team began to increase the tempo and Mark Gower forced Andy Marshall to make a save low down after ten minutes.

Southend continued to press but Coventry looked like they could soak up anything Steve Tilson's side could throw at them.

Adebola and his strike partner Leon McKenzie - making only his second start since joining from Norwich on transfer deadline day - forced Darryl Flahavan into saves from headers before City fell behind.

There seemed to be little danger when Simon Francis fired a cross towards the diminutive figure of Luke Guttridge. But Heath gave the midfielder a slight nudge in the back and referee Darren Drysdale awarded a spot kick.

Eastwood blasted the penalty straight down the middle and it hit the back of the net despite Marshall getting his legs to it.

Despite their woeful away run, Coventry's collective head did not go down and they started to force the issue as half time approached.

They got their just rewards just before the break when Adebola used his strength to hold off a defender before finding skipper Hughes 25 yards from goal.

The midfielder unleashed a shot from distance which took a big deflection off Adam Barrett and flew past Flahavan.

It got even better for Coventry just after half time as McKenzie's pace took him was from full-back Francis along the left wing. As he cut into the penalty area he was upended by a combination of Francis and centre-back Prior and the official evened things up on the penalty count. Cameron, the former Wolves defender, stroked the penalty into the top corner.

But falling behind produced a spirited reaction from Southend as they piled on the pressure and forced Adams' men back.

Marshall had to make a smart stop from Kevin Mahor's shot from the edge of the area but it was by no means one-way traffic as Coventry looked a threat on the break.

But if there is one thing Coventry's defenders do not like it is pace. So when Mahor delivered a 50-yard pass over the top for Eastwood to race on to they were struggling.

The striker flew past Heath and finished in fantastic style with a toe-poke from 15 yards that left Marshall with no chance.

But Southend were equally susceptible to speed and when they failed to deal with another McKenzie run they paid the price.

The former Norwich man found Doyle on the edge of the area on 80 minutes but the Irishman scuffed his shot. Fortunately for Coventry, it was deflected into the path of Adebola, who prodded home.