The Exiles are through to the Second Round of the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 victory at Southend United.
After a goal-less first half, Shawn McCoulsky opened the scoring on 52 minutes. Dan Butler launched a ball forward which Lamar Reynolds did superbly well to knock forward and set-up McCoulsky for a simple tap-in.
McCoulsky got his second seven minutes later with another composed finish, this time after Tom Owen-Evans had worked excellently to drive into the area.
Mike Flynn elected to make four changes to the side that battled to a draw with Stevenage on Saturday. Ben White replaced Mark O’Brien at centre-half as Shawn McCoulsky replaced Frank Nouble up-front. David Pipe and Tom Owen-Evans completed the four changes, replacing Sean Rigg and Joss Labadie as County set-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Phil Brown made five changes to his side that beat Blackburn Rovers on the opening weekend. That saw them set-up in a 4-4-2 formation with Simon Cox and Theo Robinson leading the line. Rob Kiernan made his first start for the Shrimpers since joining from Rangers in the summer.
The game would see County trying to reach the second round for the first-time since 2013/14 when they beat Brighton & Hove Albion before going out to West Brom. Southend were hoping to get to the second round for the first time since beating Bristol City at Roots Hall in the 2010/11 season.
County’s Matty Dolan fashioned the first opportunity of the game in the opening 100 seconds, but saw his 22-yard effort well held by Ted Smith in the home goal.
Southend fans didn’t have to wait too much longer to see their team create an opportunity. Striker Simon Cox looked to get in to the County area, but handled in the process to stop a good-looking attack.
Robbie Willmott’s inviting delivery almost gave Shawn McCoulsky a chance to shoot on seven minutes, but John White did really well to recover and block the shot.
Lamar Reynolds, as energetic as ever down the County left, waltzed into the area moments later but White was there again to prevent McCoulsky having a simple tap-in.
Owen-Evans came inches away from giving County the lead on the quarter-hour, only to see his curled 25-yard effort clip the crossbar on the way over.
Stephen McLaughlin created some space in the County area on 20 minutes, although he saw his delivery expertly cleared away by debutant Ben White.
Jermaine McGlashan tried to pick-out Simon Cox in the County area minutes later, but David Pipe measured the cross and superbly cleared for a corner.
McCoulsky could have given County the lead on 29 minutes following a superb Willmott delivery; but his header missed the target from just inside the six-yard area.
As the game ticked past the half-hour mark, it would be a fair reflection to say that County were looking the most threatening. Southend looked happy to counter-attack but were hitting the brick wall that was Demetriou and White at every attack.
Cox did manage to make some room in the area shortly after, however, but would have been disappointed to head straight at Joe Day.
Stephen Hendrie came agonisingly close to an opener for the home-side with a minute left of the first-half, only to see his 30-yard effort cannon back off the post.
Joe Day comfortably held a Dru Yearwood attempt seconds later; as the home-side tried to end the half in the ascendency.
That was the final opportunity of the first-half which presented some entertaining moments. The home-side seemed to be slowly getting a foothold into the game, relying heavily on a counter-attacking system.
County seemed comfortable having a lot of the possession, but neither side could find a breakthrough.
Flynn decided to make a change during the interval, captain Joss Labadie on for Scot Bennett.
But it would be Southend to create the opening opportunity of the second half.
The ball fell kindly to Cox on the edge of the area, but the striker took too long with the shot, allowing Demetriou to make an easy block. Cox had another opportunity on 50 minutes, but Day comfortably held the free-kick.
And the home side would be punished for the miss as County took the lead on 52 minutes.
McCoulsky, scorer of the dramatic equaliser at Stevenage, was the man to get it.
After Butler had launched a ball up-field, Reynolds latched on to it and knocked it past the keeper. McCoulsky out-paced the recovering Rob Kiernan to calmly slide home the opener.
The goal seemed to spark something in an otherwise quiet Roots Hall, with the home-side intent on putting their Carabao Cup demons behind them
But McCoulsky was intent on making sure that didn’t happen as he grabbed the second.
Owen-Evans did brilliantly to drive into the area, drove a cross along the area for McCoulsky to tap home on 59 minutes.
The game’s first yellow card came in the 61st minute when Matty Dolan was adjudged to have fouled Cox.
Ben White was also shown a yellow card moments later, as the home-side appeared to be getting agitated to going further behind.
Brown made two changes to try to get his side back in the game. Amadou Ba and Marc-Antoine Fortune replaced Cox and McGlashan. Nouble replaced Reynolds for County.
Within seconds of the changes, McLaughlin headed over for the home side, before Owen-Evans fired narrowly wide after excellent work from Nouble.
Owen-Evans fired straight at Smith on 73 minutes, as the home side threw on Michael Timlin for extra attacking force.
Labadie came close to a third for County on 87 minutes, as the Exiles looked to be seeing the game out relatively comfortably.
The indication of four minutes added time did give the home side a glimmer of hope, but the Exiles faced no real attacking threat to seal their place in the next round of the Carabao Cup.
County: Day, Pipe (C), Butler, White, Bennett (Labadie 45’), Demetriou, Dolan, Owen-Evans, Willmott, Reynolds (Nouble 67’), McCoulsky (Foulston 90’)
Subs not used: Bittner, Rigg, O’Brien, Jahraldo
Southend: Smith, Demetriou, White, Kiernan, Hendrie, McGlashan (Ba 65’), Leonard (C), Yearwood, McLaughlin, Cox (Fortune 65’), Robinson (Timlin 80’)
Subs not used: Oxley, Kyprianou, Kightly, Bridge
Referee: Anthony Coggins
Attendance: 2,998 (130 County)
Next County game: Crewe Alexandra (Away) 12th August