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27 March 2021

Southend United boss Mark Molesley was delighted to have seen his side pick up a vital three points on the road at the EnviroVent Stadium as Blues beat Harrogate Town 1-0 this afternoon.

Ashley Nathaniel-George’s second goal in three games was the difference, with the winger bundling the ball home from close range after Alan McCormack had seen his effort cleared off the goalline by the hosts.

The victory ended a run of seven games without a win for Blues and put memories of that big opening day defeat to Harrogate to bed, while also closing the gap to safety to just three points. And after the full-time whistle in North Yorkshire, Molesley gave us his thoughts on the win.

On a big three points…

“At this stage of the season and the situation we’re in, it was crucial that we got those three points today. Another clean sheet and three points away.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Harrogate. Their journey has been a great one and I know how hard it is to get out of non-league – I’ve done it as a player and been a non-league manager myself, and to get out of the league the way they have done is fantastic.

“We knew we were in for a hard challenge today. They’re very organised and a tough opponent, and we had to show every characteristic today. The surface was difficult, the situation was tough losing three players this week, so it was always going to be difficult. But it just shows the resolve and the resilience of this group that never know when to lie down.

On the passion shown…

“I’m hugely proud of them. We had the game Tuesday [against Walsall] and they didn’t, and they’re a fit and well-organised outfit so the boys had to dig deep today.

“Then you lose your captain before half-time with a suspected broken arm – he’s had an initial x-ray on that at the hospital and we’re relieved to say that we don’t think it’s broken, so hopefully it’s not what we feared it was – so to come off that pitch with three points, just seeing Whitey there with hopefully no break, it’s been a better day at the office.

“The stakes are high and the pressure is on, we know that. There’s no hiding from it but the boys haven’t ducked the challenge and they never know when they’re beaten. They’ve had to show that fighting spirit out there again today and we got the three points. But that’s all it is, we’ve just wiggled off the ropes a bit, but the fight is still very much on.”

On the match-winner and the frontmen…

“It’s confidence. Just seeing that ball hit the net, you’ll never understand the confidence that gives to a player so that was certainly what we were looking for. Now Ash [Nathaniel-George] has that confidence that he’s scored two in the last three and that’s great for him.

“Sim’s [Akinola] got himself in and around, he’s finished 90 minutes and I thought he looked more fit and athletic today; big Emile [Acquah] was a focal point for us and made it difficult for their defenders.

“Everyone played their part. We don’t normally give up too much on our goal and Oxley made a great save in the first-half at a vital time. That was a great save from him and everyone to a man has played their part in a really good, dogged performance.

“Clean sheet, three points – we’re obviously delighted. There’s a hell of a lot of hard work ahead of us and we move onto the next challenge.”

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