Draw at Bristol Rovers not what doctor ordered for Southend United's unwell manager Phil Brown (From Echo)
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Draw at Bristol Rovers not what doctor ordered for Southend United's unwell manager Phil Brown
SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown was feeling unwell in the build up to Friday night’s 0-0 draw at Bristol Rovers.
The Blues boss therefore travelled to the game on his own in order not to pass on the bug to any of his players.
He then sat in the stands and not the dug-out during the match and let assistant manager Dave Penney speak to the press at the end of a game, which in truth, did probably not make him feel much better.
In fact, him and everyone else wanting Southend to succeed were left with a familiar feeling of frustration at the final whistle as the side again failed to shine in the final third of the pitch.
At the back, Blues were again solid with goalkeeper Daniel Bentley rarely being called in to action.
The emerging centre-back partnership of young John Egan and Jakub Sokolik again impressed and two of the most consistent full-backs at this level, John White and Ben Coker were their usual solid selves.
That led to the Shrimpers securing their 15th clean sheet of the season and they, along with high-flying Chesterfield, now have the joint best defensive record in the league.
Blues have conceded just 36 goals in 38 games but their failures at the other end of the field mean that solid platform is not being built upon.
For the Shrimpers have now netted just six times in their last eight outings and were again unable to hit the back of the net at Bristol Rovers on Friday night.
As a result, their winless streak was extended to 13 matches which set a new unwanted club record for the number of successive games without a victory.
During that wretched run, Blues have taken just eight points from a possible 36 and have slipped down to ninth in the League Two standings.
Quite simply, they need to score more goals to turn that stuttering form around but that is obviously easier said than done.
Boss Brown has tried various partnerships and formations and has also brought two new strikers to the club in the last couple of months.
The latest of those, Jamar Loza, made his debut as a second half substitute at the Memorial Stadium and certainly has the pace Blues have been lacking in that area of the field for much of the season.
However the youngster, who is on loan from Norwich City for an initial month, also wasted Blues’ best chance of the night against the Pirates as he sent a six yard header down in to the ground and over the crossbar.
That ensured another blank for the Shrimpers who will now desperately be trying to think of ways to get themselves firing in front of goal.
Trying to get Kevan Hurst involved more often would be a good start as the winger has not seen enough of the ball in the last few outings.
Hurst tops Blues’ scoring charts with 11 goals this season and has again made more goals than any other player in the squad.
As a result, he has been involved in close to half the goals Southend have netted this season and therefore needs to be utilised as much as possible.
Further forward, Loza should be given a go to see what he can offer and, of those players contracted to Blues, perhaps Jack Payne could soon be given me of a go as well.
The talented youngster has a sensational scoring record in the reserves this season and deserves an opportunity to show if he can replicate that form in the Football League.
But somehow or other, the Shrimpers need to transform themselves in the final third as time is starting to run out on their season.
They simply have to find their scoring form fast to have any chance of securing a top seven finish.
And three points tonight against Oxford United, with an improved attacking display, would be exactly what the doctor ordered for the unwell Brown and the club’s suffering supporters.