Southend boss Mark Molesely spoke of his relief as Blues finally grabbed their first win of the season thanks to Emile Acquah’s late strike against Walsall.
Acquah’s goal came with two minutes left of normal time to go at a sodden Banks’s Stadium and just minutes after Elijah Adebayo had missed a penalty for the home side as a result of Tom Clifford’s foul on Cameron Norman.
And after the full-time whistle had blown in the West Midlands, Molesley was understandably full of praise for his side who’d secured not only their first win of the campaign but also their first clean sheet, giving Blues something to build on ahead of back-to-back home games.
On picking up a first win…
“That’s the word, relief. I always knew the win was coming and we always had belief in ourselves. We hadn’t quite had the rub of the green this season with injuries and decisions, but the resolve the boys shown there. They’ve dug deep and shown all the ingredients you need for a tough away trip.
“We’ve travelled up this morning and it’s a tough place to come. We’ve shown grit, desire, determination, put our bodies on the line, people playing through the pain barrier and they’ve shown all the characteristics we’re going to need.
“I apologised after the [Colchester] game that I couldn’t field the competitive team that everyone wanted. But with the injury list we’ve had, the lack of pre-season the players have had and players that are still missing and trying to come back, we couldn’t take any risks.
“As painful as it was Tuesday, the three points today were more important. I understand the magnitude of a derby, but it was a competition that had no significance, and these three points were much more vital to us. That was the reason behind it and you could see the 45 minutes we did get into John White, he got another 60 today, and the rest I got into the rest today paid dividends.”
On Walsall’s late penalty…
“This is a brutal game, which we’re learning at the moment, but maybe it was harshly given. Tom Clifford swears he didn’t think it was a penalty. We were guilty of not putting our chances away in the first-half but we rallied, we dug in and we never gave up.
“You could see at times, without that win the games just grow in magnitude, they grow in pressure and we’ve got a young group out there. The way they stood up today, I’m proud of every single one of them.”
On Acquah’s winner…
“We needed his presence upfront. That wind really picked up and you’re thinking, that wasn’t there in the first-half as strong as that, and we were struggling to get a presence up front and Emile come on and improved that.
“His goal wasn’t one of a big target man; it was one more of a winger the way he jinked, twisted and got his shot off which shows the quality that he has.”
On building on the win…
“I don’t think it’s anything to do with pressure on my shoulders as we knew that win was coming. We always believe in ourselves and the process. The game’s quite cruel sometimes and we’ve had the harsh realities of that with things not going our way with the injuries and whatnot.
“Look at Timothee Dieng and Jason Demetriou out there today, Harry Lennon – you can see from the run of games that they’re getting fitter. John White joins them today, Shaun Hobson playing out of position, I thought he was strong and excellent. It shows that when we get our more experienced players around then the young players can flourish more.
“When you get that balance right, we’ve got a better chance of getting results. One win today doesn’t solve anything, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ve had four [outfielders] on the bench today, but a clear week is definitely going to help us. We’ve got two tough games coming up and we’ve got to try and use this as a catalyst to crack on now.
“We’ve got two of the top teams coming in the next two games, so we haven’t done anything. All we’ve done is shown we’ve got the minerals, we’ve got the characteristics and we’ve got the fight in us. The job never changes – prepare, work as hard as we can, try and be better.”