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Plenty of positives for Southend United despite defeat at Chesterfield
8:46pm Monday 26th August 2013 in Sport
AT the final whistle at the Proact Stadium on Saturday, Southend United’s players sunk to their knees after suffering a disappointing 2-1 defeat at Chesterfield.
The Shrimpers cruelly conceded deep in to stoppage against the Spireites and remained in subdued while discussing the setback and their frustrations after the final whistle.
Such feelings were obviously understandable after a cruel and arguably undeserved conclusion to an entertaining encounter.
But there were was also plenty for Southend to also be feeling positive about as they proved, perhaps more than ever this season, that they definitely have what it takes to more than match any team in League Two.
Chesterfield were initially on top at the weekend and caused Blues problems with an unusual formation which saw two attacking midfielders, including the excellent Gary Roberts, playing behind a lone striker.
However, after getting to grips with the home-side, the Shrimpers soon began to more than hold their own against a Spireites side tipped to be challenging towards the top of the table this term.
Blues can therefore take great encouragement from their display against the toughest team they have faced so far.
In their opening two matches, Southend faced Plymouth and Hartlepool teams who failed to impress and, last time out, Northampton were reduced to 10 men inside the opening half an hour.
But, on Saturday, Blues did battle with one of the best teams at this level and their performance did not deserve to end in defeat.
That bodes well for the remainder of the season and that, rather than a deflated, depressing feeling, is certainly what the Shrimpers should be taking from the game.
Several players are now starting to come to the fore with young goalkeeper Daniel Bentley again impressing between the sticks.
After becoming the first Southend goalkeeper in 36 years to start a season with three successive clean sheets, Bentley was in fine form again on Saturday and his save to deny Jay O’Shea in the first half was simply stunning.
In fact, the only problem with the ever improving shot-stopper is that his talents may soon start to be recognised from teams at a higher level and the Shrimpers could have a fight on their hands to keep him at the club.
Just in front of him, right-back John White already looks to be a superb piece of business by boss Phil Brown and, in attack, Freddy Eastwood now seems to have rediscovered his scoring touch.
The forward hit the back of the net just four times throughout the whole of last season but he has now scored three goals in his last three league games for the first time since 2006.
Eastwood’s strike at the weekend exemplified the confidence he has rediscovered but the effort ultimately went unrewarded due to Gnanduillet’s late winner.
The timing of his header angered the Shrimpers who felt referee Sebastian Stockbridge was wrong to add on six minutes of stoppage time.
But, while it was quite puzzling to understand why the game was extended for so long, Blues ultimately only have themselves to blame after failing to defend a corner and leaving Gnanduillet with a free header just six yards from goal.
That was the only real negative of Saturday’s performance but the challenge for Blues is to now react to this disappointment in the right manner.
The standard of Saturday’s display would be enough to beat most teams in League Two and the Shrimpers will now want to consistently reach that level to remain in the promotion race.
Nine points out of 12 still represents a fantastic start but Blues will want to bounce back at Wycombe Wanderers this weekend and their display at the Proact Stadium proved they are more than capable of doing so.