Lee Barnard secured Southend United an opening day win against Accrington Stanley and then declared he was back to his best.Barney, making his 100th appearance for Blues, came off the bench to score from the spot and hand Blues all three points at the Crown Ground.
With a good pre-season under his belt, Barnard believes he’s back to his best ahead of the next ten months of League 2 action.
He said: “Last season I probably wasn’t physically or mentally ready because I’d had a few injuries and not played much football before joining on loan.
“But I’ve had a really good pre-season and I’m feeling back to my best, so it was great to be able to kick the season off with the winning goal.
“I got to the ball first (for the penalty) and the defender caught me. They are sometimes quite difficult for the referee to call, but he made the right decision.
“Having had one earlier in the game as well he may well have been inclined not to give it but thankfully he did.
“I’m always confident from the spot and although Myles wanted to take it, and put a little bit more pressure on me, I was delighted to see it go in.
“I didn’t know it was my 100th appearance for the club until after, so it rounds off a great first day of the season!”
Barnard felt Blues did enough over the course of the game to deserve the three points against a resilient Stanley side.
He added: “We had to keep working hard because they sat quite deep, but we’ve got the three points and that’s the most important thing.
“We created quite a few chances throughout the game, but when I came on I felt I’d get one and I just had to make sure I took it.
“It’s a great start because it’s never an easy place to get three points. There’s a long way to go but we can be pleased with the start we’ve made.”