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Interviews

REACTION: MAHER'S THOUGHTS ON TROPHY WIN

18 December 2021

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Kevin Maher was delighted with the character his side showed this afternoon after coming from behind to beat Dorking Wanderers in the Third Round of the Buildbase FA Trophy at Roots Hall.

The visitors from the National League South took the lead in just the fifth minute after Alfie Rutherford drilled home the opener from close range.

Rhys Murphy missed the chance to level from the penalty spot, firing his effort over the crossbar, before Sam Dalby hammered home the equaliser from inside the box before the break.

Debutant Collin Andeng Ndi then had a moment to remember as he saved Bobby-Joe Taylor’s spot-kick for the Wanderers before sub Matt Dennis scored a beauty of a strike to send Blues through to Monday’s Fourth Round draw.

“To start the way we started was disappointing, to say the least, but I always felt there was something there for us in the game,” said Blues boss Kevin Maher following the full-time whistle at Roots Hall.

“We watched a lot of their games and they are quite open. If you get your press right, turn the ball over, they can be quite open, so I always felt there was something there for us.

“I felt we had to be better with the ball at times because they’re dangerous going forward and when you keep the ball they can’t attack.”

After going behind early and then seeing top-scorer Murphy fail to convert from the penalty spot, Blues fans could have been excused for thinking it was going to be one of those afternoons.

Maher felt those first 40 minutes matched the mood that has surrounded Roots Hall of late but praised his side for the character shown to turn things around.

“It’s kind of indicative of the place at the minute. There’s a bit of a negative energy around the place but we’ve overcome that.

“Murphy has done brilliantly for us, to get nine goals so far has been different class and he’s been brilliant for me since I’ve been here, so I have absolutely no problem with that.

“Absolutely, and I said that in there [about the character]. There haven’t been enough wins at this club. For the last however many years we haven’t won enough football matches.

“Now you go behind to a team in a lower league you can feel what’s coming, and probably the fans see it as well and go ‘here we go again.’ So good credit to the players, to everyone, staff included that we’ve turned it around and got a victory.”

The key moment of the afternoon was the penalty save from Andeng Ndi who was making his first-team debut for Blues in place of the injured Steve Arnold.

And Maher was full of praise, not only for the young 18-year-old stopper but for his coaching staff too who played an instrumental role in helping Andeng Ndi make that penalty save.

“I was delighted, especially for Reece Ottley as well our goalie coach that studies penalties and watches opposition penalties. He gave [Collin] the right way to go and that’s twice now he’s done that for the keepers.

“When we were talking about Collin earlier in the week with Reece, he said he’s ready, give him a go. You’d always rather back one of your own rather than look to bring someone in and hopefully that’s justified it as well.

“Arnold has been brilliant for us, he’s our number one. To have Collin come in and do that…I’ve watched him play a couple of games behind closed doors and there’s something there that we like. He’s a really good character as well so we’re delighted for him and delighted for everyone in that department.”

That save set the stage for Matt Dennis to score the winner. Having only been on the pitch five minutes, he cut onto his right and sent the ball into the top corner to win it for Blues.

Dennis has had few opportunities to impress since Maher came in as Southend boss, but his goal has surely brought the Norwich-loanee to the gaffer’s attention.

“Walsh wanted it passed to him but when Matty come inside and done that, brilliant.

“I think Murphy was disappointed to come off, but I felt we needed some fresh legs and a bit of pace up there.

“Matty hasn’t been given much of a chance to be fair, so I’m delighted for him to get the goal and get the winner.”


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