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2 April 2022

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Southend United’s recent poor run continued as they fell to a 3-0 defeat to Notts County this afternoon at Roots Hall thanks to a hat-trick from Ruben Rodrigues.

The attacking-midfielder secured the visitors the three points with three well-taken goals – a volley in the 19th minute, a calm finish just past the hour mark and a clever looping effort with 10 minutes remaining – to keep Notts County in the play-off places.  

Blues had their chances but were unable to take them, with by far the best being Sam Dalby’s penalty which was saved by goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros with the score at 2-0, and after the defeat the Southend Head Coach, Kevin Maher gave us his assessment of the game.

“Losing any game is not good and I’m disappointed to lose it by the score we did,” said Maher. “I don’t think there was anything in the game until they scored.

“We go through set-pieces and detail yesterday and we knew they’d get a block around the back, but we decide to do our own thing. We give them all the detail, but the players somehow decided to do their own thing a little bit on that, and all of a sudden, you’re one down and you’re chasing the game.

“Start of the second half we were on top and we got balls going into the box, and we get done on one ball. 2-0 is difficult and Dalbs [Sam Dalby] has the penalty which is poor, then you’re susceptible to the counter-attack.”

Blues had earned themselves an excellent opportunity to get themselves back into the contest at 2-0 when substitute Callum Powell was brought down inside the penalty area by Alex Lacey.

Dalby stepped up, going for the same technique that worked so well against Grimsby Town last month, but goalkeeper Jaros went the right way and made the save, and Maher felt had Dalby scored then his side had a chance of coming away with at least a point.

When asked if he felt Blues would have got something from the game had the penalty gone in, Maher said: “You do, because at 2-1 there are 20 minutes left and the crowd are going to start getting behind the players

“So you do, but there are some bad decisions on our part in moments of the game that we got very, very wrong.”

Defeat for Blues was their third in a row and their fourth from their last five outings, having gone the previous 13 league games unbeaten.

And Maher stressed that, although he continues to learn a lot from these games, it’s all about winning and getting back to what took them on that long unbeaten run previously.  

“It’s about winning. I learn a lot, but I want to win.

“It should be hurting them in there. We’ve gone 13 games unbeaten and now we’ve lost four in five and it’s not good enough. You learn, yeah, but you also want to win.

“Momentum changes and all of a sudden there’s a dent in confidence and things don’t go your way. What you’ve got to do is, on the pitch, know what it takes to grind a result out and when you’re not playing as well.

“Today, I thought we played ok to be fair. We had their press right and we won enough balls back in the right areas, but in the final third we didn’t have quite enough quality to take advantage of that.

“Then there are moments in the game: the set piece we do wrong, the penalty we get and we miss, and they are moments in the game that change it.”

Blues now have a week to prepare for arguably their biggest test of the season as they travel to league leaders Stockport County next weekend.  

The Hatters currently sit 10-points clear at the summit of the National League and Maher is under no illusions at how big a test his side face live on BT Sport.

“It's going to be a big test. They’re flying and they’re a really good side.

“We’ve got to go and come up with a game plan and put a performance in like we should do every week and like we should have done today.

“It’s a test and we want to win football matches.”

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