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6 November 2021

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After being forced to watch from the stands, Blues boss Kevin Maher said he was disappointed to see his Southend side knocked out of the Emirates FA Cup at the hands of Chesterfield.

Blues had gotten off to a flyer as birthday-boy Rhys Murphy put the visitors in front after just four minutes, but the hosts immediately responded with an equaliser from Saidou Khan before debutante Luke Croll squeezed the Spireites in front.

Kabongo Tshimanga then came off the bench in the second-half to put Chesterfield into the hat for the second round draw as Southend exited at the first round stage.

“It’s disappointing to lose,” said Maher after being asked for his thoughts on the defeat to the Spireites.  

“We started brilliantly and got a great goal, but then we concede too easily. You want to stop the ball coming into your box at source and stop crosses. So we’re disappointed having started so well and thinking great start, and not following it up. It’s not good enough really.

“I thought we were on the front foot and pressing for the equaliser [in the second-half]. We’ve had plenty of ball and a couple of good chances, and I think we could have done better in the final third with our final ball hitting the frontman too many times.

“In a cup game we were going for it and if you take a chance, you run the risk of being caught on the break. The second-half I thought we were the better team and on the front foot.”

Despite going two goals behind when Tshimanga netted four minutes after coming off the bench, second-half stoppage time was full of drama and on another day could have set up a nail-biting finish for the hosts.

Sam Dalby had a penalty late on which he blazed a high over the crossbar to all but end Southend’s hopes of staying in the competition. And in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Zak Brunt and Chesterfield’s Calvin Miller were sent off for a scuffle.

When asked about those two moments deep into stoppage time, Maher said: “no one means to miss a penalty, but it would have been a grandstand finish had it gone in.

“It wasn’t to be and we’ll pick ourselves up. The lads have given us everything again and we’ve been just a bit short.

“I’ve spoken to him [Zak Brunt] and have seen the footage, but I’d rather not comment until we’ve gone through the correct process.

“I was on the way down to the dressing room when I see it happening, so I didn’t see the incident live, but I have seen it back and it’s something we’ll look at. We’ll have a look at it and if it’s three games, then it’s disappointing, but it gives someone else an opportunity to play.”

Concentrations can now return back to the league and Blues have got themselves a clear week ahead of the visit of Woking to Roots Hall next weekend as Southend look to pick up a second successive league victory.

And after the full-time whistle, Maher gave us his thoughts on another vital week for Blues as they look to steer themselves clear of the National League drop zone.

“[The game against Woking] is the next game, but we wanted to win this one today. It doesn’t matter…cup, league, whatever, we want to win the next game, which is now next Saturday.

“We’ll have a week at work and get some good work into the players, get back on our turf and try and get a positive result next weekend.”

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