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5 October 2021

Blues boss Phil Brown felt his Southend side were able to play without pressure this evening against Eastleigh as they secured a vital 1-0 victory against the Spitfires at Roots Hall.

Nathan Ferguson’s thunderous strike in the 69th minute was enough for Blues to pick up just their second win of the campaign and end a run of seven games without a victory.

And after the match, Brown felt that off the field distractions, as well as some unfamiliar tactics from the Southend boss, may have contributed to his side picking up the win.

“There has been a build-up of pressure, but the pressure tonight was not on the players, it was deflected to the chairman, to myself and whoever is in charge of the football club,” said the Blues manager following the full-time whistle this evening.

“The players looked as if they were out there playing without pressure, whereas the previous four games I’ve probably been asking too much of them.

“I did something today that I’ve not done for a long time and that’s name the team a 6:15, so the players were asking who was playing, what system we were doing, what’s the tactics, and I didn’t give them any tactics until we got [Eastleigh’s] teamsheet which was an hour before the game.

“There were some great performances out there tonight. I’ve asked them to wear the shirt with pride and I think everybody did.”

Having made five changes at Solihull on Saturday in a losing effort in the West Midlands, Brown made another five changes this evening for the visit of Eastleigh.

The most surprising inclusion in the starting line-up though was Simeon Akinola who’d not featured for Blues at all this season, and Brown explained what led to his inclusion from the start.

“I thought long and hard about Simeon Akinola. I said at the end of last season he wasn’t my cup of tea and we had a heart-to-heart and he agreed he would move but nothing manifested itself in the summer.

“Give him every credit, he stayed true to his word and said he would work hard every day, and he has done, and he’ll wait for moments coming along where he can get a move to another club.

“I phoned him up last night about 8:30 and he didn’t recognise my number, understandably. I said I was thinking about involving him today and I then phoned him up at 10:30 this morning asking to meet him for a coffee, and when I told him I was starting him he had to get his head around that because coming off the bench is a different argument.

“[When he went down injured] I thought that’s his moment when he had my career in his hands and he could have done anything with it. He went down, got up and got on with it, looked like he was going to come off five minutes after that but decided I can get through this which he did do.”

Victory tonight lifted Southend out of the relegation zone in the National League and brought some much-needed relief to the club after a difficult run of form.

And Brown was asked if the win against Eastleigh had lifted some of the pressure off his shoulders after a tough early start to the campaign.

“I’m not thinking about me, and I mean that. I’m here to help get the club out of the trouble that they’ve been in for the last two or three years.

“I keep saying we need to stop the haemorrhaging first. Have we stopped it tonight? Well, it’s going some way to stopping it. We beat King’s Lynn on the first day of the season, now we’ve won our next game which is eight games after, that’s too many games after.

“After four games we had a foothold in not only the competition but stopping the haemorrhaging. I thought we competed so well against Wrexham and I thought that was a platform to push on, then we lost four games on the bounce.

“I can tell you the stats and the reasons why there were so many changes today. I was watching Eastleigh against Boreham Wood and listening to that stat from BT that 10 of Boreham Wood’s 11 starters had played every game – I want that consistency. I want to know my best team and I can honestly say I’m not too sure what my best team is until we get all of this emotive stuff out the way.”

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