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8 March 2022

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Southend United boss Kevin Maher was once again full of praise for his Blues players as they extended their unbeaten league run to 13 games thanks to a 1-0 win over Grimsby Town this evening at Roots Hall.

Sam Dalby’s penalty in the 62nd minute was the difference between the two sides with Dalby stepping up to score the winner from 12 yards, his 10th goal of the season, after Callum Powell had been brought down inside the box by Michee Efete.

“It’s the players that go out on the pitch and turn up every Saturday, every Tuesday and they’ve done it again tonight,” said Maher following the full time whistle at Roots Hall.

The Southend boss continued by saying: “We were a little bit sloppy to start with I thought. A few passes went astray, and we let them turn the ball over a couple of times without finding our rhythm.

“There were still some good spells and some good bits, and it was a tight game between two good sides, but second half I thought we were very good.”

Both sides struggled to create any meaningful chances in a quiet opening 45 minutes in Essex, though Blues created the best of what chances were made with Harrison Neal seeing an effort tipped over the bar by Max Crocombe before the Mariners stopper also denied Powell.

But the winner came when Powell – who went off to a standing ovation – got on the end of a loose ball inside the box before being brought down, with Maher describing the former Kettering winger as a “bright spark.”

“Everyone puts a shift in at the club and the players have been outstanding again. We could have nicked one in the first half, but it wasn’t to be, and we get the penalty through our hard work.

“Powell done ever so well for that as well because he’s a bright spark in and around the final third, so I’m glad he’s affected the game. I think Dalby’s shown his confidence at the minute the way he took the penalty.

“Powell was bright in the box and that’s what he is. He’s elusive and he draws fouls. He was bright in the box and they brought him down so all credit to him.

“He deserved his round of applause because he worked his socks off again for us tonight. Overall, I’m delighted with everyone and have to give credit to all the players, they’ve been outstanding again.”

The midfield three of Will Atkinson, Harrison Neal and Noor Husin were also picked out for special praise from the press and fans alike for their performance in the centre of the park.

And Maher explained that it’s performances like theirs that make it tough for players outside of the starting 11 to break into the side, including the likes of Jack Bridge who again came off the bench and impacted the game late on by smacking the crossbar.

“[Noor Husin], he’s a top player. We knew he was a good player before bringing him in but working with him every day you can see that; Neal I thought was outstanding today, just as Will was Saturday. It’s the engine room and they are winning that battle most weeks to be fair to them.

“It’s hard for the ones that are on the bench because it’s hard to get players on when they’re playing so well and it’s hard to change too much.

“I have to give them credit, the ones that are on the bench and couldn’t quite make the squad train their socks off as well, and that pushes the ones that are on the pitch. That’s why you get standards like you’ve got over the last period.

“Bridge has been itching to get in but it’s been difficult. Like I said before, you’ve got to earn the right to wear the shirt and it’s not as easy to get an appearance now. It’s difficult, and credit to Bridge, he affected the game Saturday and he’s done it again tonight.

“All round, delighted with everyone, especially the lads at the back as well. They deserve a lot of credit because I thought they looked in control without really being stretched, and it’s a good clean sheet at home which we’re pleased with.”

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