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26 July 2022

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Blues boss Kevin Maher was upbeat with his side’s performance following Southend’s 3-1 defeat to League One Ipswich Town at Portman Road this evening.

The home side – who begin their season against Bolton Wanderers on Saturday – took an early lead through Arsenal-loanee Tyreece John-Jules in just the seventh minute.  

Greg Leigh doubled Ipswich’s advantage before the hour mark, but Blues rallied well and got one back through Callum Powell, who then almost levelled matters only for his curling effort to be tipped onto the post by Christian Walton.

Former Southend-man Freddie Ladapo rounded off the night by getting a third for the hosts, but Maher was pleased with what he described as a different type of workout against a side two divisions above Blues.

“Pleased with everyone again,” said the Southend manager following the full-time whistle in Suffolk.

“You come to the level of opponent you have tonight, they’re one of the favourites to go up from League One, so we knew how tough it was going to be.

“I was pleased because in all of our games so far in pre-season we’ve dominated possession and had the majority of the ball, so it was good to have one where we didn’t. It was pleasing in that respect that it was a different type of workout to what we’d had so far.”

Despite seeing very little of the ball against their League One opponents this evening, Maher felt his side showed plenty of heart to stand up against Ipswich’s domination of the ball.

Maher also felt Blues should have had a penalty for a foul on Nathan Ralph which could have seen the two teams go in level at the interval, but overall Maher was happy with what his side showed.

“The fourth [official] thought it was [a penalty]; the ref said there was contact, but he said that happens in a game. It’s one we didn’t get, I suppose you’ve got to get used to some of them this year.

“But I was pleased with everyone because early on when they dominated and looked like they were getting through us quite easily, and we stood up to it and then started to get a little bit of the ball ourselves and cause them a few problems which was good to see.”

Blues changed their entire starting 11 at the interval, bringing on the likes of Callum Powell and new signing Christopher Wreh, and the two linked up well for Southend’s solitary goal of the evening.

The second half 11 also saw several academy players take to the field and Maher was pleased that they did not look overawed playing against seasoned Football League pros, while also praising Blues’ goalscorer after he grabbed his fifth goal of pre-season.  

“All credit to them. It was a great experience for them coming and playing in a stadium like this against opponents a couple of levels up from us.

“I thought they acquitted themselves ever so well, and Powelly took his goal brilliantly and could have had another one. For the lads to show that character and the quality as well was pleasing.

“[Powell] lives on the shoulder and is always a threat with his movement and a little bit of trickery as well, and he took his goal well so delighted with that.

“Chris, it was a great ball through from him as well and you see that he’s going to get fitter and stronger every day he comes and trains with us, plays and the more minutes he gets. He’s got a good physical presence but he’s got some quality as well.”

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