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Southend United manager Phil Brown: Easter is going to be huge for us
THE Christmas and Easter periods are always crucially important and this weekend is certainly a huge one for us.
We play Rochdale tomorrow in what is obviously going to be a very difficult game and then we take on Accrington on Monday, who will also be hard to play against.
Rochdale are currently just a point off the top of the table so they could well be champions elect and it was at their place last season when I realised things really had to change here.
It was the first game after we had lost at Wembley in the final of the JPT and they beat us 4-2.
Barry Corr could’ve had a hat-trick on the night but, even if he had got one, we still would’ve lost.
That’s when I knew the group didn’t have the right mentality and we’ve worked hard to change that.
We’re in the play-off positions right now and that’s where we want to stay.
With that in mind, it was obviously disappointing to lose against AFC Wimble-don but the statistics from the game were still quite encouraging.
We had 27 shots, eight of which were blocked, and managed to get 26 crosses into the box.
When you consider that on average a goal is scored from every nine crosses in League Two, it was unbelievable that we weren’t able to hit the back of the net.
JOHN EGAN GOAL GETS MY VOTE
VOTING is underway for the club’s goal of the season competition and there are actually a few contenders.
John Egan’s magical strike at Scunthorpe United immediately springs to mind and that would probably get my vote, but there are other good goals that I can think of too.
I remember the fantastic cross-field pass Luke O’Neill played into the path of Anthony Straker, who then set up Kevan Hurst against Chesterfield at home.
And Hursty also scored a very good goal at their place in the FA Cup.
In the build up to that one, Anthony Straker produced a piece of skill that was Messi like but I think John will win it and deservedly so because it was a hell of a goal.
GREAT DAY WITH THE TIGERS
I WAS at Wembley for Hull’s FA Cup semi-final against Sheffield United and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
If I’m being honest I didn’t enjoy the first half as much because Hull were certainly second best as Sheffield United were on top.
But Hull came back strongly and I was lucky enough to celebrate with some of their fans after the game.
Full credit to Steve Bruce, his backroom team and the players because I think Hull are having their best ever season.
And, having obviously been the manager there myself in the past, I will certainly be back for the final at Wembley and I look forward to there being a huge contingent of travelling Hull fans.
There were 35,000 there on Sunday because 5,000 sent their tickets back as they were waiting for the final.
It seemed a risky thing to do but they’ve got their big day now and I’m sure they will make the most of it.
CONGRATULATIONS TO LUTON
CONGRATULATIONS to everyone at Luton Town for winning promotion from the National Conference.
They have spent five years out of the Football League but they’re a big club and John Still and his players deserve a lot of credit for what they have achieved.
I just hope we don’t play them next season because we have our sights set on being in League One.
NEW BEN COKER DEAL IS GREAT NEWS
I THINK it’s fantastic news that we’ve been able to extend Ben Coker’s contract at the club.
Having watched the DVD of the Wimbledon game again Ben seemed unusually erratic and quite nervy.
It was almost as though he had lost a bit of focus, which was strange because he’s certainly been one of our best and most consistent players this season.
I hope the new deal can give him a boost at just the right time during our run-in and I’d like to thank the chairman and the chief executive for making it happen.
We’re chatting to one of two other players about contracts but there’s a week in May when I will be sitting down with the players who are going to be out of contract and telling them if they’re going to be here next season or not.