It was first blood to the Shrimpers in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy southern area final.

Ryan Leonard scored to give Southend a 1-0 win at the Orient. The visitors brought over 1,700 fans making it a right old east London, Essex derby atmoshere both in song and rivalry.

The O's dominated most of the first half. We played with confidence after our tyres were pumped on the back of our 1-0 win at Stevenage.

Southend started the half like a nervous choirboy stuck at the back too embarrassed to come forward. We created chance after chance only to be thwarted by that final finish. We were just plain unlucky as we worked hard to press for that elusive opener.

Southend's keeper Paul Smith had his work cut out keeping us out, when he denied both Shaun Batt and David Mooney with superb outstanding saves that were right of the top draw.

The vital goal came in the second half when Sean Clohessy sent over a cross and it was Leonard who reacted quickly to guide the ball home, via a deflection off O's defender Mathieu Baudry.

The League Two side came close again when a 25-yard shot from Kevan Hurst just shaved the outside of the upright. But with our never say die attitude we continued to pile on the pressure in the eight minutes of added on time following a serious injury to Southend's Michael Timlin.

We piled forward but keeper Smith proved unbeatable as he twice denied Mooney although he was fortunate when the O's striker crashed a shot against the crossbar and headed the rebound over the top.

Even though their job's half done I still have a wry smile that with their slender lead they are there for the taking. We were far the better side on the night.

The stakes are high and we are only 90 minutes away from that coverted prize. Every school boy's dream is a Wembley cup final. It's game on with everything to play for in the return leg at Roots Hall. Be there for that last push for the final and let's make it ours.

A suprise goodbye to Ben Chorley who left the O's for Stevenage where he played somewhat unusually against us on Saturday. He is a good player who had some good games for the O's.

Doors are opening and closing at the moment. Batt has joined us from Milwall and has already made his mark in the team on Saturday and in the JPT. We wish them both well.

Next up to grace the Brisbane Road turf it's league leaders Tranmere who have been in pole postion for months so they're no pushovers. But they lost on Saturday to Carlisle so they may well be still smarting over their surprise loss. We are only ten points behind them and five points off the play-offs so its all there and we can play with the best of them.

Bring it on, 

Up the Os.