SOUTHEND United manager Phil Brown hailed his side’s fighting spirit after they staged a stunning second half fight-back to secure a ‘dream’ 3-2 win against Walsall at Roots Hall on Saturday.
The Shrimpers seemed to be heading for a disappointing setback when their former midfielder Franck Moussa fired the Saddlers into a 2-0 lead.
But goals from Nile Ranger, Anton Ferdinand and Simon Cox saw Blues battle back to secure a victory which moved them into the League One play-off positions, much to the delight of Brown.
“It’s a massive victory in the grand scheme of things,” said Brown.
“I thought it was going to be one of those days when Franck Moussa came on early and got a couple of goals to put them 2-0 in front.
“But it eventually turned into one of those days you dream about, being 2-0 down and winning 3-2 and it was all down to the spirit of the group and showing they really believed.”
The victory was the Shrimpers’ second in succession and came after Brown decided not to make any changes until centre-back Ryan Inniss was shown a yellow card in the 51st minute of the match.
“I was probably the only man in the stadium not to make changes at half-time,” said the 57-year-old.
“ I think most people over their pint and pie at the break would have been talking about bringing him on and him off but I looked at the stats and knew we had also created three or four good chances so I decided to leave it.
“In fact, I would say it was Ryan Inniss’ booking which was the turning point.
“He was sailing close to the wind in the first half.
“They were complaining about his tackle on (Erhun) Oztumer early on, even though I thought it was a fair challenge, and then he got a yellow card.
“John (White) can always do a job in the middle so I put him in there and brought Jason Demetriou on against his former team to give us another option going forward and I thought the substitutions played a massive part.
“Theo Robinson’s pace caused them problems and Simon Cox’s guile won us the game in the end.
“It also showed why I believe in this group of players.”
Brown’s changes came after he opted to start the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
But the Blues boss did not feel the change in system was responsible for Walsall getting on top early on.
“Everyone can question selections and formations but it was the whole group who got us this result,” said Brown.
“It was a quality performance in the second half but I don’t think you can say we had more men up front.
“It was four up top in the first half as well but the players we ended with are probably more direct.
“The strikers we have in our squad must be the envy of most clubs at this level but we need to pick the right two in the right games.”