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23 July 2021

Southend United boss Phil Brown didn’t show any signs of concern despite Blues’ latest pre-season outing ending in a 5-1 defeat to a West Ham XI side at Roots Hall this evening.

Brown felt his side were dealt a ‘lesson in fitness’ and that the Hammers’ quality in the final third was the biggest difference with Thierry Nevers stealing the show for the visitors with a hat-trick.

Matt Rush had given Southend an early lead in front of 1,943 supporters as Roots Hall welcomed back fans for the first time since last December before West Ham turned the screw to record a big victory against Brown’s side.

“I’m not a results person in pre-season, never have been,” said the Blues boss following the full-time whistle at Roots Hall.

“I’m more about performance and yes for the first 30 minutes we more than matched them.

“You can see the quality in their team and the majority of the quality was in the final third, but getting to the final third was a lesson.

“It was a lesson in fitness, attitude and mentality. I keep on saying that the hardest thing for me in the next three or four weeks is getting everyone’s mentality onto a winning train of thought as opposed to a losing one.

“We think we’re fit, but we’re nowhere near at this moment in time. We’ve not got tough decisions to make because this is what pre-season is all about, but we’ve got some hard work ahead of us in the next four weeks.”

Having missed out on the victory against Great Wakering Rovers earlier in the week, tonight was the first chance for Rhys Murphy to show the Blues fans what he brings to the table as the striker started his first game for Southend since singing in the summer.

The frontman was brought off though after 34 minutes having only begun his pre-season training this week, with Brown explaining that it was always the intention to bring him off, alleviating any concerns of there being an injury.

“It was a planned substitution. He missed the first week of pre-season and I didn’t want to be talking about injuries, but you’ve got to try and make sure that when we do expose them to first-team football, whether it be 30 minutes or 45 minutes, that they’re capable of doing it.”

Brown continued, saying, “he asked at half-time was it a substitution for a reason because he felt good enough, but I would have been standing here kicking myself up the backside had he got injured in the last 10 minutes of the first-half.”

And following the lifting of the vast majority of COVID restrictions at the start of the week, tonight saw fans take the chance to return to Roots Hall for the first time since the 15th of December victory against Grimsby.

With 1,943 in attendance, the Blues boss was disappointed he couldn’t give the majority of those in the ground a better result.

“I know that if they’re supporters of Southend United you don’t support West Ham, and I know the rivalry. I wish it had been a better scoreline for them.

“The bottom line is let’s treat it as it is, a friendly against an u23 team. Let’s keep it level, keep it real. We got a lesson in fitness tonight more than anything, and a little bit of quality in the final third. I think that was the difference between the two teams.”

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