Southend United picked up their first win under Kevin Maher as goals from Sam Dalby, Jack Bridge and a brace from Rhys Murphy secured Blues a 4-1 win against Dover Athletic at Roots Hall.
Murphy’s quickfire double in the first-half set Southend on their way, first scoring from close range following a corner before confidently dispatching a penalty after Bridge was fouled by full-back Travis Gregory.
Dalby increased Blues’ advantage after the restart, but Dover did manage to get one back as Ryan Hanson scrambled one across the line. It wasn’t the start of any sort of comeback though for the Whites as Southend restored their three-goal lead through Bridge and seal the victory.
For the first time since taking charge as Blues boss, this evening saw Kevin Maher take to the dugout at Roots Hall and the Southend head coach named two changes to his side that lost narrowly to table-toppers Boreham Wood on Saturday.
In came Jack Bridge and Harry Phillips, replacing Charlie Sayers and the suspended Abu Ogogo, and Blues began brightly against Andy Hessenthaler’s Dover Athletic who sat bottom of the National League table, cut adrift on -9 points.
After just seven minutes, Rhys Murphy had a golden chance to open the scoring for the home side but the Blues striker was denied by a smart save from goalkeeper Adam Parkes. Murphy then almost put the finishing touches on a lighting counter-attack, flashing a shot across goal.
The visitors had fleeting opportunities in front of goal with Koby Arthur firing wide from distance, but it was Blues who looked the most threatening, and they stamped home their dominance with two goals in quick succession from Southend number nine, Murphy.
Half an hour was on the clock when Zak Brunt’s corner made its way through to the striker who fired home from close range. Five minutes later and Bridge was brought down in the box by Travis Gregory, leaving Murphy to drill home a second from the penalty spot.
Southend were in firm control going into the second-half but Dover looked lively after the interval and had their best moment of the game fall to Gregory who was picked out unmarked inside the area only for his shot to go straight down the throat of Steve Arnold.
Blues though rubber-stamped their superiority by grabbing a third to all but seal the victory when Sam Dalby grabbed his third of the season and Southend’s third of the night, receiving the ball from Murphy and curling his effort into the bottom corner just before the hour mark.
Despite the looming prospect of another defeat for the visitors, Dover didn’t lie down and they managed to pull one back through Ryan Hanson. After Ben Williamson has forced a fingertip save from Arnold, Hanson bundled the resulting corner over the line to reduce the arrears.
Southend’s three-goal advantage though was quickly restored as Blues grabbed their fourth of the evening with Bridge getting on the scoresheet. After finding space down the left flank, the winger shot across Parkes and into the back of the net for his first goal for the club.
Not settling for four, Blues pushed forward for more goals and twice went close late on with Phillips seeing an effort well blocked before Kacper Lopata saw a header from a corner clawed away by Parkes, but Southend had done more than enough to earn a big three points.
Blues XI: Arnold, Howard, Hobson, Bridge (Sayers 90+1’), Dunne, Murphy, Dalby (Rush 88’), Phillips (Ferguson 86’), Lopata, Brunt, White (C). Subs Not Used: Egbri, Walsh
Dover Athletic XI: Parkes, Bramble (Woods 55’), Johnson (Twumasi 66’), Williamson (C) (Bentley 89’), Cosgrave, Ransom, Gregory, Tiensia, Arthur, Collinge, Hanson. Subs Not Used: Bexon, Wood
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Assistants: Jacob Lehane & Mark Pond
Fourth Official: Jack Willmore
Southend United: Rhys Murphy 30’, (p)35’, Sam Dalby 59’, Jack Bridge 74’
Dover Athletic: Ryan Hanson 69’
Southend United: Zak Brunt 51’
Dover Athletic: Ryan Hanson 26’, Danny Collinge 36’, Adam Parkes 39’
Attendance: 4,996 (62 Away)