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7 August 2021

Phil Brown was delighted with his side’s performance in their latest pre-season game against Ebbsfleet United as a youthful Blues team drew 1-1 at the Kuflink Stadium.

Southend took the lead late in the first-half when Matt Rush pounced on a downward header inside the box to sweep home the opening goal of the afternoon in Kent, before Ebbsfleet equalised when Elliot Romain stabbed home from close range 11 minutes from time.

The only negative from the afternoon was the sight of Tom Clifford leaving the ground on crutches after he picked up an ankle injury, which Brown saw as the only downside from the clash with the National League South side.

“Tom Clifford, with me, his middle name seems to be ‘unlucky’,” said Brown following the full-time whistle against Ebbsfleet.

“It’s just frightening the amount of things that have gone wrong with Tom since I’ve come to the football club.

“It’s a bad one to be fair. We don’t know how long, but the initial signs were a big swelling coming up on his ankle and that’s a guy that was only the pitch 15-20 minutes. That’s the only negative of any kind [from today].”

Away from that injury to the Blues full back, the Southend boss was full of praise for how his young side stood up against an Ebbsfleet side chock full of experienced players.

The Fleet squad boasts names such as former Bradford striker Dominic Poleon and former Gillingham midfielder Lee Martin, but Brown said his young team more than stood up to the challenge.

“That was the challenge and that was the test. We said to them before the game that you’re going to get experienced lads here, there’s a lot of experienced boys in their team that have played at this level and above. The seniors that are in the opposition will test you, physically, verbally, mentally, the whole thing, and they more than stood up to it.

“I was delighted. It was a very exciting line up with plenty of pace and youthful exuberance. You would expect energy from them, but sometimes when you get a goal against you it tests you character-wise, but when they equalised, I thought we were the team pushing for the winner.

“I’ve got to be more than pleased with the young lads as a young group. When I’ve seen their team, I thought the amount of experience and the amount of league games they’ve got under their belt, I thought it was going to be a tough day at the office for the kids, but they stood up to it.”

Earlier in the week, the club announced that over 2,900 season cards had been sold to Blues fans ahead of the upcoming National League season, with the target of 3,000+ expected to be hit very soon.

And the Southend manager had a special word for the tremendous support his side have received in the build-up to the new season and he hopes that his side can repay that faith back to the fans this coming campaign.

“It’s brilliant and it’s absolutely magnificent, and I’m hoping that support will be rewarded both home and away.

“I know the supporters are going to venues like King’s Lynn and they want to see performances. They want to see, which is probably the most important thing, hard work and putting pride back in the shirt after back-to-back relegations.

“It’s been difficult for the club over the last couple of years and it’s time to stop the haemorrhaging and get us back on track.”

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