Blues boss Sol Campbell said he was proud of his squad after they fought valiantly but ended up on the wrong side of a 2-1 defeat against Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
James Henry had given the home side the lead from the penalty spot before Southend deservedly levelled right on half-time with Lewis Gard marking his return to the side with a tap in.
Matt Taylor though scored six minutes from time – his sixth goal in his last four games – to break the hearts of Campbell’s Blues and afterwards he gave us his thoughts on the defeat.
On the battling performance…
I think the lads played really well and they took the fight to Oxford. Oxford are a great passing side and have beaten a lot of good sides, they are a fantastic outfit and we took the game to them.
We had a few good chances, stuck to the game plan and I think when we got a couple of injuries that really took us back with our positioning, our drive forward and our decision making with some of the players that came on.
We’ve had moments in and around the box where we needed to be a little bit more ambitious and go for it in their box. With a couple of chances here in there, little snapshots, we could have made something more out of it, but I can’t fault the lads, they really played well.
When you look at it, the squad has almost 12 players that are 20 or under. I’m proud of them, they played really well. I think we’ve done enough to at least get a draw out of the game, but one bit of magic and it’s 2-1.
On Lewis Gard’s scoring return…
For me he was just pleased to get on the pitch and play football and then to top it off, he’s nicked a goal. He’s played really well, probing and his retention of the ball was good.
His first game back is always a nervy situation coming back in after being out of the game for a long time, but he’s battled his way back in and he’s nicked a goal.
On what to take into next weekend…
We’ve got to start the game like this. We played really well, stuck to our guns, played some really good football and we imposed ourselves in moments.
The lads played really well and run their socks off. Obviously, tiredness came into some of the lads in the last 20 minutes and it just changed our game. We’ve got to take that on and go from there.