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16 October 2021

Interim Head Coach, Jason Demetriou, was full of praise for his Blues side who had to come from behind to beat Chertsey Town and make it into the First Round of the Emirates FA Cup.

The Pitching-In Isthmian South Central side were in dreamland when Casey Maclaren put the visitors in front after just five minutes, but Southend responded with goals from Nathan Ferguson and Rhys Murphy which put Blues in front at the interval.

Second-Half goals then from Nathan Ralph and Louis Walsh sealed the victory for Demetriou’s charges who’ll be keeping their eyes peeled to see who they pull out of the hat in tomorrow afternoon’s First Round draw.

“Really well done to the boys,” said the Interim Head Coach following the full-time whistle at Roots Hall this afternoon.

“After the first five minutes, we were saying “oh no, is this going to happen,” but I had a lot of confidence in the boys. We had a great week, and we know we’ve got a good group there, it’s just about confidence and building on it.

“They really stuck to their task and I was really impressed with the performance today.”

After a tough start to the league campaign, which ultimately cost Phil Brown his job last weekend, Southend feared the worst after going behind early on, with Demetriou mindful of Blues’ recent record of coming from behind in games.

“I’ve been here a long time so I knew the record that we’ve only come back from behind twice in the last couple of years, so in the back of my mind I was thinking “no, no, no.”

“I didn’t want to let the boys know that though and you can tell that they really got into it, and once we got the first goal it settled.

“We know we’re better than Chertsey – no disrespect – and we know we should be winning this game, and the confidence come.

“I’m proud of the whole team and I’m looking forward to joining back in next week, but I was really proud of everybody today.”

With several injuries to defenders, including the interim boss himself, Southend were forced to name a makeshift defensive line with James Dunne in the middle of a back-three, flanked by Rob Howard and Nathan Ralph.

And Demetriou gave a glowing assessment of the trio’s performance with Dunne doing “a job for the team” by slipping back into defence while Ralph got his name on the scoresheet with a superb header.

“Rob Howard was absolutely brilliant and he showed his class.

“Dunne, for someone who’s never played there…I said to him yesterday he might have to do a job for the team and he didn’t bat an eyelid and said he would 100% do it for the team.

“Ralph was outstanding and he was one of our best players. The three really stood out for me and I was really impressed with how they dealt with it.

“We were left three-on-three a lot of the time, but that was the plan. We said that they’re probably not going to hurt us as much as another team so we can afford it, but I did lie to Bridge and Egbri when I said they probably wouldn’t have to come back as much today.

“It worked out in the end and all three of them were absolutely fantastic at the back.”

And when asked after the game if he’d be interested in taking to the dugout in the future, Demetriou said he enjoyed the experience and would love to do it again…but not right now, as Blues continue their search for a new permanent manager.

“In the end I enjoyed it. It’s 100% something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a whole new emotion because you can’t do it yourself, you have to rely on other people, and I thought they were great today.

“It’s something I’m really looking forward to doing in the future, but not right now.”

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