Blues boss Mark Molesley apologised to the fans after Southend lost 6-1 to Colchester United in the Papa John’s Trophy but said he had no choice but to prioritise the league campaign.
A hat-trick for Jevani Brown set The U’s on their way to their biggest ever win against their local rivals with goals from Michael Folivi, Noah Chilvers and Kwame Poku rounding off the scoring for the home side, while Kazaiah Sterling grabbed a consolation for Blues late on.
The Southend manager though, while disappointed after such a heavy defeat, said that he couldn’t risk his more experienced players on Tuesday night when speaking to the press at full-time, with the priority being the weekend’s trip to Walsall in League Two.
On the defeat…
"It’s a really tough night. We’re obviously bitterly disappointed. I can only apologise, but we couldn’t risk our players tonight.
"We’ve got a skeleton squad at the moment. We’re missing half our team for most of the season now and we couldn’t take too many risks physically where we had extra-time on Saturday. We had a young squad out there, a couple of them did play 120 minutes as well and physically second-half we were mismatched and we couldn’t keep up with the pace of the game.
"First-half we were competitive, had some good chances to go ahead, but again we’ve conceded a couple of soft goals again at vital times when it could have gone the other way. But second-half, we’ve come up short physically. It was the youngest team again that we’ve announced, and we couldn’t physically keep up today.”
On making seven changes…
"It doesn’t help [the confidence] but I couldn’t risk the players today. I can only apologise but we have to prioritise Saturday. We’ve had hard luck with injuries, half our team have been missing most of the season.
"We’ve got to slowly get the other ones back and the other ones just needed to rest tonight. We’ve had so many Saturday, Tuesdays and a lot of travelling, and some of our more senior players have come back from injury and played in a lot of games, so we couldn’t risk that today.
"It’s always going to add pressure as soon as you lose games, and I’m aware of that. Saturday hopefully we’ll see that this might have been the right decision tonight.”
On the return of John White…
"John White’s played 45 minutes so he comes into contention, and we’ll just have to see how the boys we’ve rested tonight come back from that game on Saturday. We’ll be much changed Saturday.
"It’s going to hurt and I apologise, but I hope [the fans] have sympathy and see that there’s a lot of young players out there getting blooded, so that’s a positive, but unfortunately we couldn’t keep up in that second-half.
'We’ve had some scholars make their appearances, Kazaiah Sterling’s got his first goal for the club, a first appearance for a scholar [Reiss Chandler] and John White’s played 45 minutes.
"I’m trying to pick something positive for us out of a really disappointing evening for us, but hopefully people will understand the decisions tonight.”