Kevin Maher described his first experience as Southend United boss at Roots Hall as a “proud night” as Blues claimed their first victory under his stewardship against Dover Athletic this evening.
A first-half brace from Rhys Murphy put the home side on course for just their third victory of the season against a beleaguered Dover side, further adding to their lead after the break when Sam Dalby curled in his third goal of the season.
Ryan Hanson got one back for the visitors, but it was to no avail as Jack Bridge wrapped up the scoring with his first goal for the club to secure a 4-1 victory with Maher describing the victory as an important one.
“We knew before the game it wasn’t a must-win, but it was important and we knew that,” said the Southend Head Coach following the full-time whistle in Essex.
“Dover are struggling, but we knew they’d compete and give everything they’ve got, so I’m really pleased and to come away with four goals as well was pleasing.”
“I think [the players] needed it, the place needed it, the club needed it, so I’m delighted for everyone involved.
“Since we’ve been in for just under two weeks the players have been brilliant with us and have responded to everything we’ve tried to do with them. We know they’re a good group but they’ve shown today their togetherness and what they can do.”
After a couple of tough away games at high-flyers Dagenham & Redbridge and Boreham Wood in which Blues failed to get on the scoresheet, Maher was delighted that both his strikers managed to score this evening.
Murphy’s double and Dalby’s second-half strike were the strike-partner's first league goals since September and the Southend boss was full of praise for his front two after a tough couple of games under his watch.
“They’ve had a couple of tough away games and we’ve asked them to do a lot of work without the ball which has been tough on them.
“We wanted to get more attacking players on the pitch, for them as well, and with the right service, you can see that they can score goals.
“It’s important for them and boosts the confidence of them so I’m really pleased for them. Bridge got a good goal as well so I’m delighted for him because I thought he was outstanding.”
And having tasted victory as Southend boss for the first time, Maher was asked how he felt walking out at Roots Hall for the first time as manager – a moment in which the former Blues captain described as a proud one as he begins the process of trying to turn the club around.
“I know what can happen here and I’ve seen it. When we get a victory like that and the crowd get going, I’ve seen nights here when it’s been packed and we want to get back to that, and I believe the club can do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that.
“It’s going to take time but we can turn it around. With the players, the fans and everyone pulling together we can turn around the situation that we’re in.
“Personally, it was such a proud night to manage the club and to score four goals and to get three points was massive for me. It’s something to build on but we’re not going to get carried away. They should enjoy it tonight, but we go back to work on Thursday.
“It is going to take time and there’s a lot to change. You can’t undo what’s gone on in the last two or three years overnight. I’m really pleased for the players and for their efforts, and that they can get a taste of what it’s like here under the lights when you win. And to hear that noise at the end was brilliant.”