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9 February 2021

Blues boss Mark Molesley was over the moon with the reaction his Southend side showed as they bounced back from a tough defeat against Port Vale to beat promotion-chasing Newport County 1-0 at Rodney Parade this evening.

Tom Clifford marked his 22nd birthday by scoring the winner with a quarter of an hour remaining, seeing his free-kick deflect off the Newport wall and find the back of Nick Townsend net as Blues lifted themselves off the foot of the League Two table.

And after picking up a deserved three points on a bitterly cold night in Wales, the Southend manager gave us his thoughts on the huge victory.

On the reaction…

“We needed a reaction. After the big disappointment for us a couple of weeks ago, it was important we showed that reaction and it was important that we come out and showed that fighting spirit, that togetherness and that belief in each other which we showed in abundance today.

“That was tricky conditions and tough opposition. It was a real team performance tonight and that’s what it needed to be – people covering each other, working hard for each other – and that was the basis and the foundation for tonight.”

On scoring when on top and keeping a clean sheet…

“I felt our goal came after a good spell for us. We had a couple of chances before and some real guilt-edged ones too, so it was a good spell in the game. We got our goal and then we defended resolutely.

“Mark Oxley made one great save at the end there, but it was tricky conditions to defend in. It was lucky we kicked off at 7pm because if it was any later it would have been called off. It was becoming like an ice-rink out there. Really tricky conditions to defend on, so that makes the clean sheet that even more pleasing.”

On Clifford and the team performance…

“I thought [Clifford] was fantastic tonight. He epitomised everything we saw from everyone – that togetherness, hard work, and again in tricky conditions. That’s not a defender’s pitch out there and I thought our boys worked really hard.

“We defended as a whole team. I was impressed with the front players in front of them and the wide players too. It was a good team performance and it had to be.

“We haven’t done anything at all, but it was important we showed a reaction and a fight today and we showed that.”

On the confidence a win brings…

“Confidence is a massive thing in football and we’ve been hurting. We’ve been hurting the last couple of weeks badly and it was important that we kicked back, got that belief back in the group, get that confidence.

“We’ve got to use that as the foundation to kick on. We’ve got some tough fixtures coming up and we’ve shown we’ve got the fight and the resolve.

“The job will never change: we’ve always said it’s improve, work hard, get better, and that’s always been the case. It’s not always going to be straight forward, there’s going to be ups and downs, but as long as when you get knocked down you get back up and you fight.

“We’ve got to stay on our feet now and we can’t keep getting knocked back down. We’ve got to keep coming, keep getting better, keep working hard and try and use this as a catalyst.”

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