Southend United boss Kevin Maher said that he was proud of his Blues side after their 13-game unbeaten league run came to an end at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge this evening at Roots Hall.
The 3-0 defeat by the Daggers, secured thanks to own goals from Will Atkinson and Steve Arnold, plus a Matt Robinson effort, ended Blues’ unbeaten run which had stretched back to Boxing Day.
Despite the defeat, Maher was still proud of his side and how far they’d come over that 13-game stretch, before imploring his side to go out and show a reaction this coming weekend when Altrincham come to Essex.
“It's difficult straight after a game that you’ve lost, but I am [proud] and they’ve been brilliant the players and I’m not going to fault them,” said the Southend United Head Coach following the full time whistle at Roots Hall this evening.
“Tonight is one of them things. We’re disappointed, very disappointed, and we’ll talk it through on Thursday but to go from where we were to where we are now is huge, and that’s everyone at the club.
“We’re going to have blips on the way. It was never going to be an upward curve the whole way. There was going to come a game where it wasn’t going to go right for us and we’re gutted it’s tonight. When this happens you’ve got to respond and it’s how you react to that.”
Blues players, staff and fans alike knew it wasn’t going to be their evening when Southend conspired to put the ball in the back of their net twice in the opening 45 minutes.
Atkinson accidentally converted a Mo Sagaf cross in the opening five minutes with goalkeeper Arnold unable to prevent Junior Morias’ shot from rebounding in off his back after the winger had struck the post.
When asked what went wrong in the first 45 minutes, Maher responded: “Where do you start?
Pretty much everything.”
“We didn’t do the basics of the game right,” he continued.
“We felt we could come and have a nice game of football and we didn’t do the basics of what has got us on this run of 13-games [unbeaten].
“In terms of our tempo without the ball and making the right decisions, we played in front of them too often and didn’t have anyone running in behind.
“We can go through it and pick the bones out of it but it’s disappointing.”
After a tough opening half, Maher made a double change at the break with Tom Clifford and Jack Bridge coming into the fray and there was an upturn in Southend’s performance after the interval.
But Matt Robinson’s third for the Daggers killed off any hope of Southend extending their unbeaten run, with all eyes now focused on the visit of Altrincham this coming Saturday.
“We had to try and change something and get a bit of balance with Clifford and Bridge, who’s been itching to start anyway, just to try and get the next goal. We were on top for a period in the second half and if you can get one, all of a sudden they panic, but we’ve made another mistake and once that third one went in they got us on the counter and the game’s dead.
“We were on top and we had them stretched, and just a sloppy mistake, and once the third one goes in its game over. Disappointing but I won’t fault the lads in the terms of what they’ve done in the last three months. The main thing now is how we respond.
“You turn up and you perform and we get that out of our system. There was always going to be a game where it didn’t happen for us and it’s disappointing with the way it happened tonight as I didn’t think that was us and it hasn’t been us for the last 13 games at all. If you’re going to lose games, you’d rather lose playing the way we want to play.
“We’ll put it behind us, we’ll look at it and look to respond because all you can do is respond on Saturday. We’ll put that one to bed, they can have that one the players and that’s it now. Put it to bed, get after Altrincham and let’s respond in the right way.”