Blues boss on Ranger, Cox, the clean sheet and the run-in...
Phil Brown praised his players from front-to-back as he celebrated his fourth anniversary as Blues boss with a 2-0 win away at AFC Wimbledon.
A first-half solo goal from Nile Ranger set Southend on their way before Simon Cox’s thunderous strike sealed the points midway through the second half.
The win was Southend’s third in a row which saw them maintain their place in the play-off positions, and the Blues boss was full of praise for his two goal scorers on Saturday afternoon.
“That first goal, god almighty that’s out of the top drawer,” said Brown, discussing Nile Ranger’s opener.
“It doesn’t matter what division you’re playing in, if you see something like that on a Saturday you realise how special the player is.
“He worked his socks off for the team, Nile Ranger, and he got his reward and so did Simon Cox. I was so bitterly disappointed that Theo Robinson’s chance hit the post, because when he came on he worked his socks off too. Things today were certainly going in the right direction.”
Although Ranger and Cox will likely get most of the plaudits for their goals at The Cherry Red Records Stadium, the Southend gaffer was also delighted with the contribution from his midfield and defence.
It was only Southend’s fourth clean sheet in their last 15 games, with Brown describing it as a “team clean sheet”, and not just one for his back four and goalkeeper.
“It’s not just the strikers. The work-rate of the midfield four was outstanding.
“Will Atkinson personified that in the second half. Ryan Leonard was priceless, Anthony Wordsworth was a goal threat on a difficult surface to play well on, same as Stephen McLaughlin.
“But the back four, with that midfield and that front two working hard in front of them. The back four are delighted to get a clean sheet, but I thought it was a team clean sheet today.”
With Millwall losing earlier in the day, Southend put daylight between themselves and their nearest challengers in the play-off race.
And with just seven games remaining, Brown feels his side have given themselves “more than half a chance” and thinks their fate could well lie at Roots Hall where they have back-to-back home games next.
“With seven to go, yes we’ve given ourselves half a chance - more than half a chance.
“There’s a long way to go. There’s still seven games, 21 points to play for. But the blood is running through the veins of my players and they want to play. Today wasn’t about playing, it was about winning.
“We’re back at Roots Hall now for back-to-back home games against Oldham Athletic and Bolton Wanderers and our fate could be decided at Roots Hall, and let’s hope it is.”
(Due to technical difficulties, we apologise for there not being a Blues Player interview with Phil Brown)