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Dan reflects on breakthrough campaign

9 May 2013

He made his first professional start of his career, was the penalty hero on two occasions against Bury and then Oxford United, and kept the first clean sheet as a professional.

It’s fair to say the 2012/13 season was somewhat of a breakthrough campaign for young goalkeeper Daniel Bentley who has now set his sights of making the number one shirt his own next season.

He and Paul Smith were both given chances under new manager Phil Brown towards the end of the season and Dan insists the competition between the two will ensure both do their utmost to keep improving.

Speaking to southendunited.co.uk, Dan said: “Playing football week in week out is what I want to do. I feel at home being out there on the pitch, playing in front of the Southend United fans.

“Hopefully I can get more opportunities next season, but I was delighted with the chances I was given this time around. It was somewhat of a breakthrough season for me, and it’s one I’ll never forget for a number of reasons.

“Unfortunately it hasn’t ended the way we wanted; with promotion to League 1, but we just need to make sure we hit the ground running next season now. Our only focus should be winning the league, we don’t want to be thinking about the play-offs or fighting for them, we want to be fighting for the automatic places and the title.

“Paul and I have both helped each other this season. I think having two keepers who both have a chance of starting is great. When Glenn Morris was here, I was just cover really, I didn’t push for a start as I was young and inexperienced – it was my first season as a pro.

“But this year, I’ve been given a chance and really pushed for the number one shirt and I’ll continue to do that next season. When the new manager came in, Paul was between the sticks but I worked hard and was given a chance having sat down with the manager.

“I thought I did well, and kept two clean sheets, the one against Bristol Rovers was the first of my professional career, so it’s a moment I’ll never forget. 

“The manager had his reasons for bringing Paul back in for the final game, which he explained to me. It’s healthy competition though and that’s important because if there isn’t that you’re never going to get the best out of people.”

There was even some competition between the two for best penalty save of the season. Dan was the hero in the shootouts against Bury and Oxford, while Paul made super stops against Brentford and Fleetwood.

Dan said: “We both take penalties seriously in training. In the build up to games when there is the possibility of a penalty shootout the lads will always take some penalties in training.

“I like to take them as seriously as possibly and I’ve made a few good saves which is maybe why I got the call for the shootouts last season, but Paul also made some excellent stops.

“The one against Brentford was absolutely different class. It’s another area where we both push each other and that can only be a positive.”

Reflecting on the season, Dan found it hard to pick out his personal highlight, and instead opted to name three.

“Making my full professional start, the game against Bury and keeping my first clean sheet were all really special and they are moments I’ll never forget,” he concluded.


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