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Interviews

Interview: McLaughlin's memories of Stevenage game

14 May 2020

Stephen McLaughlin has special memories of his role in helping Blues reach Wembley in 2015.

But it could have been so different.

The Irishman was dropped for the second leg at Roots Hall, which was five years ago today.

It would turn out to be a blessing as he came off the bench and turned the game on its head to put Blues in the Play-Off Final at Wembley.

"I remember not starting the game,” he recalled.

"I started the first leg and then I was dropped. It worked out perfectly in the end but I was gutted at the time.

"I was just on loan and I remember in the first leg I gave the ball away and their player went and stuck it in the top corner.

"I set up Barry [Corr] for the equaliser from a corner and I was thinking maybe I had done enough throughout the game [to start the second leg], but there was still good players at the club in front of me at the time.

"I came on though and changed the game and it’s one of the highlights of my time at Southend.”

It was less than 10 minutes after Stevenage took the lead in the 55th minute that McLaughlin was introduced.

Blues of course came back from that deficit, with the 29-year-old, on loan from Nottingham Forest at the time, instrumental.

He knew at full-time he would be starting the final.

"After the final at Wembley it’s probably one of the biggest games I’ve played,” he added.

"Coming off the bench, I didn’t really have any pressure so I could go and do my thing.

"The fans after the game, when you know you’ve come off the bench and changed the game, set up the equaliser and scored to make it 2-1.

"And you know when the final whistle blows, yeah I’ve cemented my place in the team for the final and playing at Wembley. It was surreal. On the way home I was just thinking I’m starting the final now.

"With everyone watching back at home to see you come off the bench and get yourself to Wembley [is special].

"Especially where I’m from, only a small town in Ireland, so it was a massive thing and it will definitely live in my memory for a long time.”

Having joined in the January that season, it was McLaughlin’s third loan of his career.

But he said it was an easy squad to settle into.

"I knew Jake Cassidy who I had played with before. The likes of Gary Deegan, Cian Bolger, a lot of boys helped me when I joined so it was easy to settle.

"That was my first proper taste of English football.

"I scored my first English goal for Southend and then that game was definitely up there.

"When the goal went in you really feel part of something.

"I had a fight to play every week. I loved it and I knew I could do it so it was great.”


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