SOUTHEND'S survival hopes suffered a huge blow on Saturday as they were beaten 24-22 at fellow strugglers Lydney.
The narrow defeat, which was the Seasiders’ seventh in a row, leaves them second from bottom in the standings, five points from safety.
But their director of rugby Chris Green still feels his side have what it takes to stay up this season.
And he feels they may need eight more wins to make that happen.
“It was a big game on Saturday and we’re disappointed to lose but it’s still all to play for in the matches we have left,” said Green, who also returned to the starting line-up for the first time in two years.
“We have six home games remaining against teams in the lower half of the table and two or three of them away from home as well.
“I personally don’t think Lydney will be one of the sides fighting it out this season but there is still a long way to go.
“I think we’re going to have to win another seven or eight games if we’re to stay up which does sounds like a lot when you haven’t won for a while.
“But that’s the position we’re in and we have to remain positive.”
Southend looked strong in the first half at Lydney and, after going behind to a Danny Trigg penalty, they enjoyed a 20 minute period of pressure.
During that spell Todd Bailey exploited a gap out wide to secure the Seasiders’ first try and this was replicated by Mark Billings just three minutes later.
The fit again Andrew Frost kicked the conversion before Sam Arnott added a drop goal to put Southend 15-3 in front.
Lydney were struggling at this point but started to claw their way back in to the game with another Trigg penalty.
The home-side’s first try of the afternoon then followed in the 27th minute when Josh Hannan kicked ahead and beat Arnott in the race for a touch-down.
The conversion was missed but soon kicked his third penalty just before half time to cut Southend’s lead to 15-14.
However, the second half was a complete reversal of the first and, with some puzzling decisions going in their favour from the referee, Lydney were in total command.
A fourth Trigg penalty on 52 minutes gave them a 17-15 lead and a fine try from second row Dave Bennett converted by Trigg then put them 24-15 in front.
In reply, Andrew McClintock forced his way over for a late try which Frost again converted but by then it was too late to spark a comeback and Southend will now be hoping to bounce back at home to Clifton this weekend.