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Teamwork pays big dividends for Southend United
THREE goals in the space of eight minutes either side of half time handed Southend United a hard-fought 3-1 win at Cheltenham Town on Saturday.
The triumph was Blues’ fourth in succession and their best of their season so far.
And it provided a real glimpse in to the new-found togetherness of the team.
That was instrumental in the way the players stuck at it after going a goal behind during a shaky start before fighting back to grab another three points at Whaddon Road.
The team spirit was also shown when every outfield player joined in the celebrations for Mark Phillips’ goal in a way which was not seen consistently enough at Roots Hall last season.
For such a closeness was simply not in existence at the club during the previous campaign and it is definitely playing a huge part in the run of recent good results.
In truth, this current Southend side is probably slightly lacking the quality of last season’s team following the departure of Anthony Grant and the absence of Bilel Mohsni and Ryan Hall.
But the best 11 individual players do not always make up the best team and those in the starting line-up right now are willing to do the ugly side of the game, get stuck in and follow orders for the good of the whole side.
As a result, working together they could ultimately achieve more than their predecessors given the correct circumstances around them.
Some will see that as a dig at the departed players but Mohsni, in particular, did — without any doubts whatsoever — disrupt the dressing room last season.
There can be no denying the Frenchman’s talents but his team-mates often became frustrated by his behaviour and lack of professionalism in and around the club.
And that is why it is better he does not come back to Blues, despite the completely farcical situation of him being back home in France without a side to play for.
A good team spirit is certainly needed right now too as things are tough for the club at this stage and manager Paul Sturrock is therefore severely short of options.
He was only able to select five substitutes for the game on Saturday and must be able to strengthen that squad if his side are to remain up towards the top of the table for the remainder of the season.
So far the signs on the pitch are promising though, with Britt Assombalonga, who has scored five goals in games, extending his loan spell from Watford until January.
That gave Blues a massive boost and Kevan Hurst is now also starting to shine.
The winger endured an injury-hit start to his Southend career but he had a hand in all three goals on Saturday and has now played a part in six of his side’s last nine efforts.
Those creative qualities will be needed for the tough tests ahead, as will a battling, ball-winning midfielder.
But, if the spirit and work rate can be maintained, then Blues could well enjoy a good season — just as long as they do not run out of players!