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15 January 2022

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Kevin Maher was left frustrated after Southend United exited the Buildbase FA Trophy at the Fourth Round stage following a 2-0 defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge this afternoon.

After a goalless first-half where Blues had been on top for large periods, two goals in eight minutes after the interval from Mo Sagaf and Junior Morias sent Southend crashing out of the competition.

And after the full-time whistle at the Chigwell Construction Stadium, the Blues Head Coach gave the press his thoughts on this afternoon’s defeat to the Daggers.

“I’m frustrated,” said Maher when asked of his assessment of the defeat.

“I thought we started ever so well and were on top of the game and I thought we had a couple of good chances that when you’re on top you need to take, and I don’t think we done that.

“We probably didn’t work the keeper enough throughout the game, especially first-half when we were on top of the game. The amount of balls that we had going into the box that we haven’t created anything or got on the end of, but the smallest one of the pitch gets it for them so it’s frustrating.

Blues made a bright start to proceedings in East London with centre-back Josh Coulson having two good chances early on, one of which needed to be cleared off the line by Daggers midfielder Joey Jones.

But despite their first-half dominance, Southend were made to rue those missed opportunities with Maher left frustrated that his side didn’t have the quality to test goalkeeper Elliot Justham more in the opening 45 minutes.

“When the momentum is with you it makes a massive difference. We started so well and were on the front foot causing them problems and we had them stretched, but I don’t think we had enough quality in the final third to test the keeper enough or get that goal, which is frustrating.

“You can see as the game went on there’s nothing in the game really with the amount of balls we had and probably the better chances as well.”

Maher was missing some key players this afternoon with injuries and cup-tied players meaning the Southend boss needed to make five changes to the side that won against Yeovil in midweek.

The Blues boss admitted that his side this miss the likes of Rhys Murphy and Will Atkinson who both missed out through injury, while also giving an update on their fitness ahead of Southend’s next league game against King’s Lynn next Friday.

When asked if Southend had missed the injured players, Maher said: “I think so, because they’re up to speed. Some of the ones come in and had a chance but were not fully up to speed.

“We had to make changes, we had no choice with some of them – Kacper [Lopata] had his knee problem that he went back to Sheffield United with so we had to protect him on that; Clifford hadn’t trained at all and Cliffy’s come back from a long-term injury so we had to protect him, and him not training was one of the reasons as well.

“We’re waiting for Murphy on a scan that he’s had, so we’re just waiting for the clarity on that; Harrison Neal is obviously available [after being cup-tied today]; Will Atkinson, we hope, will be ok and Clifford as well, who was on the bench but we didn’t want to risk him.

There are ones that are ready to come back in.”

Finally, with Blues’ first-ever FA Trophy campaign now in the books, all focus can now shift to three big league games coming up against King’s Lynn, Aldershot and Dover as Southend look to build on their back-to-back league wins against Weymouth and Yeovil.

Maher was disappointed that his side’s run in the competition was over, but that he knows more now what needs to improve ahead of those three crucial league games.

“We know the areas we need to improve on and where we’re looking. It’s something we knew before, but we know what we’ve got to do to get to the areas we want to get to and we’ve got a big game Friday now to refocus.

“The FA Trophy has been brilliant and we did want a run in it. We wanted to win and get as far as we can but in the position we’re in the league now, we’ve still got to win some matches.

“They’re big ones but [we’ll look] no further than Friday for now and it’s important that we’re ready for that and we can go full tilt at it.”

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