Southend United extended their unbeaten league run to eight games this evening thanks to a superb 2-0 win against promotion-chasing Bromley at Roots Hall.
Two goals in quick succession after the half time interval was the difference, as Matthew Dennis scored on the rebound following a Sam Dalby effort that had struck the post, with Shaun Hobson doubling Southend’s advantage three minutes later, heading in a Tom Clifford corner.
A crowd of over 8,000 were in attendance this evening – Southend’s biggest attendance since October 2019 – to roar on Kevin Maher’s side who he described as “outstanding” as he discussed tonight’s victory with the press at full time.
“It was a tough game, and we knew that coming in,” said Maher as Blues climbed to 13th in the National League table.
“They’re in great form and a team up the top of the league, so we had to be resolute at the right times and had to stand up to what they were going to throw at us because they ask you questions.
“I felt we played well and probably deserved it. In the first half, we were quite dominant and had a lot of the ball in their half, we just lacked a little bit of quality in the final third.
“Overall, outstanding from all the players tonight.”
Dennis’ strike less than two minutes after the restart was his seventh goal in his last nine appearances for Blues as the winger continued his incredible run of form in front of goal.
Maher was full of praise for the youngster on loan from Norwich, while revealing that a slight tweak in the plan for set-pieces was the catalyst for Hobson’s vital second goal of the evening.
“Sam Dalby’s done brilliantly for the first goal and how he’s been playing the last few games has been top drawer. It’s a great save from the keeper, but Matty’s on the move like a good striker should be in the box and he finished it well.
“It’s a proper striker’s goal. He got two here the other night [against Barnet] where he was following in and when you’re on the move and scoring goals like that, it’s a good sign for a striker.
“It was nice to get the set-piece goal. We worked on bits and pieces yesterday in terms of set-pieces, but we haven’t scored from enough, or as many as we would have wanted, so it was good for that to work. We tweaked that at half time, so I was really pleased.”
Despite the goal scorers capturing the bulk of the headlines, Maher was quick to mention the contribution from his goalkeeper Steve Arnold who made some vital saves at pivotal points in the match.
Saves from George Alexander in the first half and two superb reaction saves from Liam Trotter and Luke Coulson were the highlights for Arnold as he kept his second clean-sheet from his last three games.
“All of them done ever so well. The defenders stood up to everything that’s come into the box, and Arnie I thought was outstanding tonight.
“A couple of saves early in the first half where he’s come out, and when Coulson’s through in the second half, he’s made a brilliant save.
“A lot of time when balls are coming into the box he comes and collects things and I thought he was top drawer tonight.
“Since I’ve been here, he’s been outstanding. He’s such a relief for defenders when the throw-ins are coming in, corners are coming in, he comes and collects things and it’s massive for us defensively. His all-round game was brilliant.”
Having taken 19 points from a possible 21 available in 2022, Southend fans could be forgiven for looking more towards the top end of the table than the bottom end.
Maher continued to reiterate that he wasn’t getting too carried away with Southend’s assent up the league, but thanked the fans and everyone involved at the club for pulling together in the same direction.
“It’s three points. I don’t want to get carried away because there’s a long way to go, and we keep going again.
“Hopefully we’ve awoken something in this football club and I’m pleased and really proud of everyone involved at the club. The work going on behind the scenes and everyone that’s helped to do that, it’s getting us there and we’re turning the corner I believe.
“Fantastic from the supporters tonight who were outstanding again, and I can’t thank them enough for how they are getting behind the players. It's a massive lift, especially when the crowd get behind them here.
“I mentioned people behind the scenes, I can go right through everyone. The media team and everyone working behind the scenes, the football department and every other department is working together and we’re all united in what we’re trying to achieve now. And hopefully, that’s coming to fruition.
“There’s a long way to go and we’re not going to get carried away, but you’ve got to enjoy nights like this when 8,000 turn up and get behind the team like they did.”