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Southend United's Ryan Leonard cannot face Wembley heartbreak for a second season
SOUTHEND United’s Ryan Leonard is desperate to banish memories of his worst moment in football by firing the team back to Wembley with a win against Burton Albion tomorrow.
Blues head in to their play-off semi-final second leg at Roots Hall 1-0 down from the first meeting between the two teams.
But Leonard, who will be making his 100th appearance for the club, is desperate to overturn the deficit to ensure a return to Wembley where he was painfully left out of the squad for last season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Trophy final against Crewe Alexandra.
“Being left out of the squad that day was a massive low, one of the worst I’ve had but I dealt with it at the time by saying I would get back there again one day and play,” said the 21-year-old.
“I have a chance to make that happen now and it’s one I want to make sure the team takes because we all want promotion.
“It’s been a good season so far and I would like to think I got over the disappointment of Wembley quite quickly.
“But we don’t want any more disappointment now and we want to get the right result tomorrow now.”
Blues were narrowly beaten at the Pirelli Stadium last Sunday as Brewers striker Adam McGurk bagged the only goal of the game on the stroke of half-time.
However, Leonard is remaining upbeat.
“We can take a number of positives from the game on Sunday, other than the result,” said the former Plymouth Argyle trainee.
“At times we didn’t create much but we had most of the play and looked composed on the ball.
“We’ve kept a good number of clean sheets this season though and that mentality will be very important on Saturday if we’re to have a chance.
“We know exactly what we’ve got to do to stand a chance and that is win the game.
“We’ve got to have a positive mentality from the outset and I’m sure we will.”
That would also delight the Shrimpers supporters.
And Leonard would love to send them all home happy after the game.
“The fans were fantastic on Sunday and I don’t remember a game at this level where I’ve seen that sort of away support,” said Leonard. “ “It was a shame we weren’t able to get a goal for them on Sunday, but hopefully we can make up for that in front of even more supporters at Roots Hall now.
“Winning would also be the perfect way to mark my 100th game for the club and that’s something I’m very proud about.”
Striker Lee Barnard will also be making his 100th appearance for the club if he takes to the field against the Brewers.