Mark Molesley was full of praise for his Southend United side who played 38 minutes plus a large amount of stoppage time with 10 men to dig out a vital 1-0 win against Barrow at Roots Hall this afternoon.
Blues had gone in front early on when Reeco Hackett-Fairchild marked his debut and his 23rd birthday with a goal inside the first three minutes, superbly curling a 20-yard shot low into the bottom corner to give Southend the ideal start.
But after Greg Halford was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Scott Quigley, Southend had to dig deep and limited the visitors to just a handful of opportunities as they held out for the victory. And after the full-time whistle had gone, the Blues boss gave us his thoughts on the win.
On the hard-fought win…
“I’m delighted with the win, but I’m more delighted with the fashion of the win. That defensive mentality, that work-rate, that determination and fight that the boys showed was second-to-none.
“I thought the defensive organisation was superb since the sending off. I think we limited them to very few chances, despite their large spells of possession which showed how disciplined we were in our jobs.
“You can see the improvements in the squad in terms of our organisation and defensive structure. But it’s just one game, you can’t get too high when we win; can’t get low when we lose.
“We were bitterly disappointed at Leyton Orient where physically we weren’t at our standards but then we’ve certainly shown that today and it was key to get a reaction and boy did the boys show that.”
On Reeco’s debut goal…
“A great moment of pure quality from him, but it wasn’t just the goal that I was impressed with. I was impressed with his work-rate and his endeavour to win the ball back for us high up the pitch.
“I thought he put in a good slog. He needed to come off – we’re hoping that’s not a bad injury, it’s more just over-tightness – but just before he joined us he did have two weeks out with COVID. He’d only had a few days training with us, a few days training before he came, so that might explain why he did an hour, 70 minutes.
“What I can say is the subs picked up the baton, come on and showed real maturity and fitted it straight away. They knew their roles and responsibilities and carried them out and made sure we got that clean sheet.”
On Halford’s sending off…
“I felt the second one was a bit harsh, to be honest. He just dangled his foot there, but we were on the halfway line and had plenty of defensive cover. Their guy just rolled around him, it wasn’t like he was getting away or anything.
“It wasn’t dangerous or studs up, so I thought [the ref] would have taken a little bit more time [to make the decision]. We can only control what we can control. You’ve seen that they are bookings sometimes.
“What I can say or rather talk about is our reaction after the sending off, showing that defensive resilience and that organisation and that aggression to keep that clean sheet.”