Southend boss Phil Brown was over the moon to see his Blues side rise back into the play-off places after coming from 2-0 down to beat Walsall 3-2 at Roots Hall.
A first half double from former-Blue Franck Moussa set Walsall on their way to what looked like being their first away win since Boxing Day before goals from Nile Ranger, Anton Ferdinand and Simon Cox in the second half completed a remarkable turnaround.
Brown made just one change to the side that beat Coventry in midweek, bringing in Luke Amos for Theo Robinson, going with a 4-2-3-1 formation and despite coming in at half time 2-0 down the Blues boss felt he was probably the only person in the stadium that didn’t want to change things.
The Southend gaffer did go onto concede that that the changes he did eventually make, bringing on Jason Demetriou, Theo Robinson and Simon Cox, played a massive part in the eventual turnaround.
“I was probably the only man in the stadium that didn’t [want to] make any changes at half time. I thought we created four or five good opportunities, none more so than Nile Ranger’s header, so I decided to just leave it,” said Brown.
“But then changes of formation, changes of personnel play a big part in any second half of football and we didn’t start particularly well in the case of momentum.
“Ryan Inniss’ booking was the turning point in the game because I thought he was flying close to the wind in the first half but then he got a yellow card early on [in the second half] and John [White] is always capable of playing inside one and it’s Jason [Demetriou’s] old club, so the substitutions played a massive part.
“With Theo [Robinson’s] pace and [Simon] Cox’s cleverness it played a massive part in the win.”
Brown felt that today was a real test for his side’s character and spirit, and a test of whether they truly believed that they could turn the game around after being 2-0 down at the break.
He went on to say that that belief that he has in his squad, as well as the belief his players showed, got them the three goals and the three points they so desperately needed.
“Going back to the spirit of the group, they were saying at half time this’ll test us if we really believe and you have to say that at the end of the game we really believed.
“You’ve got to look at [Neil] Etheridge and you’d have to say he was probably their best player in the second half, but the moves were coming the fluency of the moves, the juices were flowing, you could see that in the creativity in the team in the second half, but it took 60 minutes to get that goal.
“Everybody can question team selection and formations and stuff like that, but I believe in this group of players. I don’t believe in the first 11 of the group, I believe in the group of players and that’s what’s got us the result.”
Looking ahead to next weekend’s game away at AFC Wimbledon, Brown said the “ammunition” he has at his disposal is the envy of any manager in this league.
And with games coming thick and fast, Brown didn’t rule out changing things up again in future matches.
“There’ll be games coming thick and fast between now and the end of the season where Theo will start and Nile [Ranger] will start, Frank Nouble will start, Coxy will start, Marc-Antoine Fortune will start, David Mooney will start.
“So when you’ve got ammunition like that, any two from six, any three from six it would be an envy of any manager in this league. I’ve just got to make sure I pick the right two for the games and pick the right tactics, and pick the right formation. Not many jobs you’ve got to do at this level, is there?”