Southend United's battling qualities come to the fore in Stevenage victory

Cian Bolger - battled well for Southend United against Stevenage

Cian Bolger - battled well for Southend United against Stevenage

First published in Sport by

SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown has often stressed his desire to entertain the club’s supporters with a free-flowing style of football this season.

But, although his team displayed that desire in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Stevenage at Roots Hall, it was ultimately their battling qualities which secured the victory.

And that was equally as pleasing to see.

Blues are to be commended for the way they try to play the game and clearly possess the quality to be able to pose problems with their passing.

However, no team will be able to succeed at this level without being able to match the more physical sides and Southend showed they can also do that at the weekend.

Stevenage must surely be one the biggest and most direct teams at this level but Blues brushed them aside with minimal fuss.

Two goals inside the opening 20 minutes killed the game off before the match became more of a scrap.

As a result, the likes of Cian Bolger, Luke Prosser, Ryan Leonard, Conor Clifford and Barry Corr all showed their battling qualities and showed the Shrimpers will not be a soft touch this season.

For Blues now boast a strong spine who are able to play the game in a variety of ways.

And, further forward, they now look far more threatening in attack.

Last season, Southend lacked pace and often struggled to get in behind their opposition.

Corr was often left isolated in attack as well but the first goal against Stevenage was a perfect example of how things have changed for Blues this time around.

Last term, had Corr flicked down a long clearance no-one was nearby to take advantage and if they were then they were unlikely to have the speed to make the most of the opportunity.

But, in Myles Weston, Southend now have a very real threat in the final third and he gleefully accepted the chance Corr created for him.

Corr again demonstrated his value to the team by also making Ben Coker’s goal for the Shrimpers.

That unlikely effort, with Coker’s right foot, came after just 20 minutes and more or less killed the game off for Blues.

After the defender’s effort little else happened, apart from two outstanding saves from Daniel Bentley.

The highly rated shot-stopper did superbly well to somehow keep out a close range effort from Adam Marriott and then brilliantly blocked another effort from Chris Whelpdale who went for power not precision when clean through on goal.

That made sure of a second successive league victory and clean sheet for the Shrimpers who will be now desperately be hoping to keep hold of Bentley beyond the transfer window which shuts at the end of the month.

The keeper has carried off from where he left out last season and he must now surely be on the radar of a number of clubs at a higher level.

But such is his importance to the team, everyone connected with the club will be hoping that Bentley remains at Roots Hall and, if he does, then this has the makings of an excellent and successful season for the Shrimpers who look strong all over the pitch at this stage.

As a result, Saturday was again reasonably convincing and commanding and manager Phil Brown now also has several options at his disposal.

However, it is still very early days and, although a bright start bodes well for the remainder of the season, there is still an awful long way to go and it is important not to get carried away.

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