Southend United now await in round four of the FA Cup after Cardiff were defeated by a 4-0 scoreline in the third round replay at the Lane.
Southend United now await in round four of the FA Cup after Cardiff were defeated by a 4-0 scoreline in the third round replay at the Lane.First half goals from Aaron Lennon, Robbie Keane and Steed Malbranque effectively settled the contest before half-time and the team eased through the second period with any major scares, with the evening being topped off with a Jermain Defoe strike.
Southend at the Lane will now take place on Saturday January 27 with a 3pm kick-off.
Martin shuffled his pack a little and made four changes from the side that began the game against Newcastle on Sunday. Benoit Assou-Ekotto returned after recovering from his groin problem, Anthony Gardner resumed in central defence in place of Calum Davenport, Didier Zokora stepped in for Teemu Taino, while Keane was handed a start with Defoe reverting to the bench.
The opening ten minutes were largely uneventful until Malbranque produced the first invention of the night and threaded through to Berbatov who, as he tends to do more often than not, took the ball into his stride with considerable ease. The striker, being closed down all the time, reached the edge of the area before stabbing in a low shot that beat Neil Alexander in the Cardiff goal, but also his right hand upright.
Zokora tried his luck from distance and Michael Dawson was a yard wide with his header from a Tom Huddlestone free-kick, but the attacking play was lacking a bit of sparkle until a low cross from the left by Ekotto was steered towards goal by Malbranque and a combination of Alexander and Glenn Loovens did well to clear with the predatory Keane lurking.
We did not have to wait too much longer for the first goal of the tie and it came on 26 minutes when Aaron Lennon launched a speedy break, swapped passes with Zokora that appeared to leave the visiting defences standing, and proceeded to advance on Alexander and slot beyond the keeper from close range.
Three minutes later Malbranque sent Berbatov galloping elegantly down the right side of the penalty area and he shook off his marker to square and presented a clear crack on goal for Keane, who was not about to spurn the invitation and duly thumped home to double the advantage.
A Malbranqe volley via a deflection then had Alexander scrambling across goal again before he delivered a third four minutes before the break.
He accepted a pass from Assou-Ekotto on the left hand corner of the penalty area and switched the ball from left to right foot in an instant before unleashing a low-ish drive that beat Alexander inside his right post.
Confidence and playing panache was increased with each goal and the fashion of play continued into the second half when there was another opening for Pascal Chimbonda from a Huddlestone free-kick.
Cardiff did press forward a bit more in search of a consolation and Martin beefed up the midfield by replacing the excellent Malbranque with the more robust Hossam Ghaly - the Frenchman receiving appreciative applause from nearly all of the 27,641 inside the Lane. Defoe was then introduced in place of Berbatov. Zokora was later replaced by Tainio as the second half was passing with little incident of note.
Until Defoe intervened with ten minutes remaining. Ghaly took a pot shot from 20-25 yards out and Alexander failed to deal with his low effort and spilt the ball in front of Defoe who, at the second attempt, was able to direct the ball into an empty net.
Alexander did make ammends a minute or so later with a fine save to prevent Keane adding to his tally for the night, but the keeper - nor his team - will take many happy memories away from their evening in N17.