Basildon-based Gard also came on off the substitutes bench in the following game, away to Bradford City, before featuring in both of Blues’ first two EFL Trophy fixtures in 2018/19.

Unfortunately, twin medial ligament damage suffered in the match against Colchester United in that competition meant Gard started 2019/20 in the treatment room following surgery as he tries to carve out a professional career with the club that he has played for since joining from Lee Chapel Youth at the age of eight.

Gard, who excels in an attacking role but can play as a box-to-box midfielder, scored ten goals in 62 youth team appearances for the Shrimpers before earning his first professional contract in the summer of 2018.

He spent an impressive period on loan in the Isthmian League North Division with Aveley during the 2017/18 season, scoring once in 12 league appearances.