Blues boss Kevin Maher was delighted with the character his side showed in a 2-1 win at Altrincham as Southend picked up a hard-fought three points at the J. Davidson Stadium this afternoon.
Goals from Rhys Murphy and Sam Dalby in the first-half set Blues on their way to a first away win under Maher, but they had to show superb resolve after Steve Arnold saved Ryan Colclough’s penalty before Dan Mooney reduced the arrears with a quarter of the game to go.
Southend though stood strong and fended off the Robins’ advances to pick up a vital victory on the road in chilly conditions in the North West, and after the full-time whistle had blown, the Blues Head Coach gave us his thoughts on the win.
“I’m delighted for the win because the three points were massive for us,” said Maher following the conclusion of the game in Lancashire.
“I felt the lads, for how they worked, probably deserved something from the last few games where we’ve been close. We’ve been close against Grimsby, so tonight to get three points hopefully gives them a good boost and that the work we’ve been doing gives them a bit of confidence.
“How we worked this week and a lot of what we’ve worked on, I thought our shape was very good without the ball. I wanted us to be better with the ball because I thought we were nowhere near good enough with the ball
“But the detail we worked on, the two restart goals we got and then the penalty save – which is something Reece Ottley [Southend’s goalkeeping coach] worked on with Arnold – for the coaching staff that was pleasing.”
Blues got off to the perfect of starts in Altrincham by taking the lead after less than a minute with Murphy claiming to have gotten the final touch after Louis Walsh’s shot was flashed across the face of goal.
Dalby then claimed his fourth goal of the campaign to finish off a free-kick routine that was taken straight from the Blues training ground and although Maher wouldn’t be drawn on whether Murphy did get the first goal, he was delighted for Dalby who capped an impressive performance with a goal.
“[Murphy] is claiming it but I’m not sure, we’ll have to look at it. It’s a great start and to get the second as well.
“I think it’s a great first touch to set it up [the second goal]. I’m really pleased for Sam because he’s worked his socks off and hasn’t always got the service that we’d like to get them as well, so I’m delighted for him because he’s put a shift in today and his overall performance was good, I thought.”
A pivotal moment in the game was that penalty save by Arnold, stopping Colclough from 12-yards with a superb save to his right, which Maher credited to his coaching staff for the work they’d put in behind the scenes.
Though the penalty save from Arnold though was the highlight, it was a massive performance between the sticks for Blues’ number one and he was another that earned praise from his boss.
On the penalty, Maher said: “Reece worked on it, and they worked on that, the staff, so it’s no accident that he’s gone the right way.
“When corners are coming in at the end there and your ‘keeper comes and gets it, for defenders it’s massive.
“He’s been brilliant, and I’m delighted for him; massive penalty save and the overall performance from him was excellent.”
256 hardy Southend fans braved the cold conditions to make the journey to Altrincham and Maher was delighted to have finally given them something to cheer with a vital three points.
And having picked up only their second away win of the season, Maher was keen to ensure his side continued that momentum in their next outing against Maidenhead as Blues look to steer themselves away from trouble towards the bottom of the National League.
“The fans were outstanding considering it’s a long way up, the weather and everything and I’m sure we would have taken double if we could.
“I’m just delighted we’ve given them something to cheer at long last. Hopefully, they’ll have a couple of drinks on the way home and enjoy their night.
“Yeah, absolutely I think [we could be better] but points are more important right now. I’ll assess the game over the weekend and look at where we can be better.
“I’ll give my players a lot of credit when they’ve had to dig in they’ve shown good character. Maybe that would have been questioned earlier this season but they’ve shown it there. That’s something we’ll hold onto, won’t forget and can build on.
“We have been improving. Despite the results, we’ve had some difficult games like this was, but we do want to take it on and we won’t let them stop. We’re delighted with the three points and now we move on and look to improve.”