Mark Molesley was delighted with the response shown by his Southend side after a difficult first-half against Grimsby as Blues secured back-to-back victories for the first time since October 2018 with a 3-1 win against The Mariners at Roots Hall.
Southend had gotten off to the ideal start by going in front inside 30 seconds through a superb Kyle Taylor strike but Grimsby responded well, hitting the woodwork twice before eventually equalising in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time through Ira Jackson Jnr.
But second-half goals from Tom Clifford and new-signing Greg Halford – announced as a Southend player just over an hour before kick-off – secured Blues successive victories in front of their home fans, and after the full-time whistle, Molesley gave us his thoughts on the victory.
On the Grimsby win…
"It was a game of two halves for us after a fantastic start which was everything we wanted. I thought it was a great, well-worked goal from us and the roar of the crowd when we scored that first goal, you’re thinking: great, what a start, and we went completely the other way.
“We went on the backfoot and I can only apologise for that first-half, it wasn’t good enough. By our standards, it probably was one of our worst performances in the first-half. We rode our luck at times and all I can offer is excuses on that.
“Maybe it was the magnitude of the game. We went 1-0 up and didn’t know whether to stick or twist and all of sudden they got a foothold in the game. We needed to rally and we were rallying. It wasn’t a good performance, but we were rallying and we needed to hold on but we didn’t.
“We conceded at the worst time right before half-time. Fortunately, it was in the first-half and not the second-half and we could have a good sort out at half-time. The players knew – I didn’t have to say too much – the players fixed it themselves and they knew where we were going wrong.
“The difference is we’ve got some strength in depth and we showed that. The players that came on brought a new energy and changed the game for us.”
On the half-time changes…
“We could have made a lot more [changes] in the first-half. I could just see that we sunk a little bit in the first-half and that’s not that group in there – they’re a fantastic group and they showed that second-half.
“The attitude and the application was at the level it needed to be second-half. We still weren’t vintage, but I was so disappointed because we’ve got our fans here watching us and we’re going into tier 3 and we’ve wasted 45 minutes of that support behind us.
“I can forgive them because they got themselves out of jail, but we know we’ve got to be better in that first-half. Second-half we limited them, we looked like ourselves, looked like the last few games where we were organised, resolute, hard to beat and we countered. The areas where we felt we could hurt them and the opportunities we managed, we capitalised on.”
On closing the gap at the bottom…
“We’re definitely not getting carried away. The first-half has given us a right slap around the face and shown that we have to be right on it all the time. We’ve given ourselves a fighting chance and the hard work continues.
“One game chalked off, we now go to work on the next game. It is boring, but it’s game by game. Having a few more options available has made a big difference tonight.”
On the squad depth available…
“The landscape certainly looks stronger as a squad. We’ve gone from having 10-12 unavailable through injury to now just a handful out.
“We’ve still got John White to come back and a couple of others missing, some more long-term as we know.
“More minutes for Simeon [Akinola]; some 20 minutes for Greg Halford, he’ll be better for that; Sam Hart’s done another hour, he’s done longer what he probably would have done.
“There are positive signs. We’ve built on fitness, built on the platform and it’s just important that we keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard, and learn the lessons from today.”