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Southend United starting to give fans hope after Fleetwood Town victory
SOUTHEND United are currently enduring plenty of problems off the pitch, but on it they are now starting to shine.
The Shrimpers fought hard to see off high-flying Fleetwood Town 2-0 at Roots Hall on Friday night.
And Phil Brown’s side have now triumphed in their last three league games.
An incredible work-rate and impressive organisational skills have been behind the return to form, along with a change to a 4-3-3 formation and they all certainly contributed to the impressive victory against Fleetwood.
Defensively, the Shrimpers looked as strong as they have done all season, up against the second most prolific attack in League Two, and they now boast the best defensive record in the division.
Friday’s clean sheet was the third Southend have secured in a row in the league and is already the sixth they have secured this season.
Ironically, Blues’ sixth clean sheet of the previous campaign also came against Fleetwood but that was in early December and shows the strength of Southend’s defence right now.
In goal, Daniel Bentley continues to show the potential he possesses and he was again in fine form on Friday while, in front of him, the back four also stood firm.
Skipper John White has proved himself equally as able as his predecessor – player of the year Sean Clohessy – while on the opposite side of the defence Ben Coker has finally solved what had been a problem position for Blues in the past three seasons.
In between them, Rob Kiernan has been outstanding since coming in on loan from Wigan Athletic and Mark Phillips remains his usual steady self.
Of course, a quality defender like Ryan Cresswell is always likely to be missed.
But the commanding centre-back, who joined Fleetwood from the Shrimpers at the start of the season, endured a miserable first return to Roots Hall.
The defender saw his former flat-mate Barry Corr win their personal duel as he bagged both of Blues’ goals on the night to end the longest goal drought he had suffered since signing for Southend in the summer of 2010.
Corr had gone 12 games without a goal before he headed Blues in front and then doubled his tally with a firm penalty nine minutes from time.
Those strikes were also a big plus on the night for the Shrimpers as the influential Corr will now be taking to the field with increased confidence which could also prove key as his side do need to start hitting the back of the net on a more consistent basis.
A lack of creativity, aside from the impressive Kevan Hurst, does remain a concern and so does a transfer embargo, which if it remains will definitely hinder Southend, when suspensions and more injuries begin to kick in.
But for now, the effort and endeavour of the side will continue to make them hard to beat and that philosophy is exemplified perfectly by Blues’ trio of midfielders.
Conor Clifford, Ryan Leonard and Will Atkinson all displayed incredible energy levels against Fleetwood and never gave their opponents any time to settle on the ball or get in to the game.
The midfielders popped up in all areas of the pitch and played a pivotal part in the Shrimpers’ latest triumph.
As a result, Blues are now just three points off the top of the table.
And, after a week in which the seriousness of the club’s fragile finances were again brought to light, the positive performance and result was the perfect remedy to get smiles back on the faces of everyone connected with Southend United.