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29 July 2022

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Kevin Maher has said that his side needs to ‘do better’ in both boxes after Blues were handed a 3-0 defeat by Crystal Palace’s u21 side this evening at Roots Hall.

Southend missed a hatful of chances while the young Palace side were clinical in front of goal, taking the lead with a sweeping counter-attack which was started and finished by Scott Banks after 20 minutes.

Palace went further in front before the break when Rob Street headed in from close range, but Blues looked lively in the second half and were unfortunate not to get at least a goal back, hitting the crossbar and having two efforts cleared off the line.

The visitors though made Southend rue their profligacy in front of goal by picking up a third just past the hour mark as Banks got his second of the game to ensure it was a defeat for Blues.

“First half we struggled in terms of our press. We didn’t get that right,” said Maher when asked for his assessment of the evening’s pre-season friendly.  

He continued: “Both boxes in the second half, we had chances second half with two off the line and one that hit the crossbar, and then you get punished at the other end.

“You’ve got to do better. In both boxes, we’ve got to do better.”

It was a third straight defeat in pre-season for Maher’s side, but the Blues boss was pleased with the response his charges showed after the interval when they were unfortunate not to get back into the game.

Despite the defeat, Maher was still happy with how his side have progressed during pre-season with just one final friendly to come tomorrow against National League South side, Concord Rangers.

“We said that we had to be a bit more physical [in the second half]. We seemed to be in our shells in the first half and were just waiting for the game to get going, and take part in it rather than getting hold of it.

“It was better in the second half but overall, it was 90 minutes for a lot of players and no injuries as well, so that’s a positive.

“We’ve had a good pre-season up to now and this isn’t going to change it because it’s a friendly.

“There have been a lot of positives throughout the pre-season and we’ve got a game tomorrow for everyone else who needs minutes, so they’ll hopefully get up to speed as well and we’ll be ready for next week.”

One notable absentee from the matchday squad this evening was striker Sam Dalby who has reportedly been a target of National League rivals Wrexham.

And Maher confirmed that last season’s young player of the year is likely to join the Welsh side as the Blues boss continues to look for additions to his squad ahead of the league opener next Saturday.

“It’s been well documented that Wrexham have come in for him.

“He’s in the last year of his contract so that makes it difficult, and with the greatest respect we can’t compete at that level, and he’ll know what he can earn there. It looks like that will probably happen.

“Hopefully there will be someone coming this way but we’re still short [up front].

“We’ve been chasing all summer someone to come in up top with Cards [Harry Cardwell] and Murph [Rhys Murphy] injured.

“Even when Dalby was here, we were still looking, so I’d say we need a couple in. We’ve tried in the summer, but it hasn’t quite happened, so we know what we need.”

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