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19 March 2022

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Southend United boss Kevin Maher was delighted with what he described as a ‘professional performance' from Blues as they beat Altrincham 2-0 at Roots Hall this afternoon.

First half goals from Nathan Ralph and Matt Dennis were enough for Southend to pick up a league double against the Robins who were making their first-ever visit to Roots Hall.

And Maher was pleased with the character his side showed in response to Tuesday night’s defeat to Dagenham & Redbridge, with the Blues Head Coach full of praise for his team at full time.

“We spoke before the game and said it was about how we responded,” said Maher.

“No matter how disappointed we were on Tuesday night, it happens, and 2-0 at home with a clean sheet is the perfect result really.

“Early on there was a little bit of nervousness and a little bit of sloppiness in our play and we turned the ball over too cheaply.

“They’ve got some dangerous players in attacking areas, so it went our way going the opposite side, but the harder you work the luckier you get, and I think we deserved that. From then on, once we got the goal, we fully warranted our three points.

“2-0 second half I think we managed the game ever so well. We just wanted another one to really put it to bed but I’m delighted with the players, it was a fully professional performance.”

After struggling to make any chances in the first half, Blues went in front when Ralph bundled the ball over the line after Altrincham goalkeeper Tony Thompson failed to claim a Tom Clifford corner.

Just six minutes later and Dennis rolled in Blues’ second after some direct running from Jack Bridge down the left, providing Southend fans with the perfect response to the disappointment of midweek.

“I’d never doubt them in terms of their application, their work rate and as long as you’ve got that you’ve got a chance. They’re an honest bunch who will give everything.

“It’s not going to go right every night or every day, so we took that the other night and we responded as we should have done.

“The most important thing was the three points and the clean sheet, and we move on again.”

Maher made three changes from Blues’ last outing with Clifford, Bridge and Dennis coming into the side and all three played a pivotal role in the outcome with Clifford and Bridge getting assists and Dennis getting on the scoresheet.

But it was Bridge that was getting most of the plaudits at full time after a superb performance in his first start since November, with the 26-year-old getting a standing ovation from the Roots Hall crowd as he was brought off towards the end of the game.

Maher said of the winger: “I know what a good player he is and he can unlock defences.

“In the first half, like a lot of players, I think he was a bit sloppy and gave the ball away. But second half you can see when he’s got the ball in attacking areas what a threat he can be.

“I’m delighted to have him back and fully fit, as well.”

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