Southend United's Conor Clifford: Scoring in win at Oxford United was best birthday present of them all (From Echo)
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Southend United's Conor Clifford: Scoring in win at Oxford United was best birthday present of them all
CONOR Clifford insisted scoring for Southend United in their 2-0 triumph at Oxford United was the perfect way to celebrate his birthday.
The Irish midfield turned 22 on Tuesday.
And he was delighted to end his celebrations by helping the Shrimpers end a run of six games without a win at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s been a really good week for me and starting here, getting the goal and three points was the best birthday present of the lot to be honest,” said Clifford, who had been on the bench for Blues’ last four games.
“I also scored against Colchester in a game we had earlier in the week as well and it was great to be back in the team because it’s obviously been frustrating not being in the side.”
Clifford, who joined Southend on a free transfer during the summer, started two matches before losing his place in the side.
But he had no complaints at being sat on the sidelines.
“It’s been frustrating being on the bench but, at the same time, I completely understood it because Will Atkinson and Ryan Leonard have been two of our best players this season,” said Clifford.
“I knew I just had to wait for my chance and thankfully that came today.
“We changed formation slightly and I think it worked.
“I just hope I’ve done enough to stay in the side now.”
Blues are back in action when they host Dagenham & Redbridge in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Roots Hall tomorrow night.
And, if selected, Clifford will again be aiming to hit the back of the net.
“I had a good scoring record at Chelsea and it’s something I work hard on,” said the Irishman.
“I often do extra work on my shooting after training with Graham Coughlan and Dave Penney and I would like to get a few more now.
“I actually told my dad I was going to score on Saturday so I had to make sure he was going to be watching the highlights!”
Clifford’s only ever previous goal in the Football League came for Portsmouth at Carlisle United in August 2012.
And his latest effort and all round performance earned him praise from manager Phil Brown.
“The good thing about Conor is that he always seems to hit the target when he shoots and it was great for him to get the goal,” said Brown.
“I think he tackled every player in their team and had real tenacity out there which was brilliant to see because he’s a young lad and he was disappointed when he was left out of the team.
“We had to work with him to build him back up again but he’s come back in and played very well indeed.”