Blues boss Kevin Maher said he had a feeling of ‘relief’ after Southend United ended a five-game losing run with a deserved 3-1 victory against Barnet at The Hive on Easter Monday.
Backed by over 1,000 travelling Blues fans, Southend went in front after just five minutes through Harry Cardwell’s penalty before Jason Demetriou doubled Blues’ lead, all inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Barnet missed the chance to half the deficit before the break with Ephron Mason-Clark’s penalty superbly saved by Steve Arnold, but they did get one back on the hour mark when sub Adam Marriott slotted home from inside the box.
Blues though would wrap up the points at the death. With the Bees pushing for an equaliser, Southend broke clear and Matt Dennis slid the ball across to James Dunne to seal the three points in stoppage time to the relief of the Southend boss.
“A little bit of relief,” was how Maher described how he felt after being asked to sum up his emotions following the full time whistle in North London.
Maher continued by saying: “I’m happy. Three points is three points and we’re delighted for the fans. The numbers they turned up in is incredible and the noise they made.
“I’m just pleased that we’ve given them three points after what’s been a disappointing period and for them, they can go home happy and have a couple of beers in the sun and enjoy it.”
It was a story of two penalties in the first half, with Harry Cardwell scoring his spot-kick five minutes in while Ephron Mason-Clark failed to take his chance, being denied by Steve Arnold from 12-yards.
And Maher was full of praise for both his striker and goalkeeper this afternoon after both played a crucial part in getting the three points against the Bees.
“[Cardwell’s] practised those and that’s exactly what he has done. It’s a great penalty because the keeper has gone the same way, but with the pace he had on it the keeper wasn’t going to get anywhere near it.
“I’m delighted for him as well because of all of his hard work and he deserves to get a goal.
On Arnold’s save, Maher said: “Credit to him and Reece [Ottley] because they go through penalty takers and who goes where.
“They got it right today and that’s a couple of times this year they’ve done it to be fair to them. So all credit to Steve and to Reece for that.”
Victory for Blues ends their winless run which had seen them lose all of their last five games, and six of their last seven prior to today.
And despite Maher’s side having little to play for, for the remainder of the 21/22 season, the Southend boss felt it was important to bring to an end their poor recent run.
“It was [important]. You could see the confidence, in terms of when you haven’t won a game for a little while, that you just need to get over the line. I think that’s why it was important today that we did that.
“Give them credit, they kept going and they’ve got some good players, especially in attacking areas that can cause you problems, and they did. We had to weather them a bit and thankfully we come out the other side.
“I keep saying I just want to win football matches. You can talk about building for next year, and we know work has got to be done, but we want to keep winning football matches. Especially for our fans who follow us everywhere and make the noise they make.
“We’ve dropped off and we know that recently, but to get back on a winning run and get the three points is massively important, and we want to try and win every game we go into.
“Hopefully that gives the players a little bit more confidence to play with a little more freedom than we did at times today, have a little bit more composure on the ball and make the right decision at the right time.”