AFTER enduring a difficult start to the season both of Southend United’s senior goalkeepers have been able to find their best form between the sticks.

Mark Oxley and Ted Smith have bounced back from losing their place in the starting line-up to produce far more assured looking performances.

And their improvements have also helped to highlight the excellent work being done by the club’s goalkeeping coach Lee Harrison.

The Rayleigh based 45-year-old, who made more than 360 appearances for Barnet in his own playing career, joined the Shrimpers coaching set up at the start of the season and is relishing his role in the Roots Hall set-up.

“It’s been really easy to settle in,” said Harrison.

“It’s a good group and being from around here I already knew Terry Mason, who is still very involved in the goalkeeping set up here, and I knew Ted Smith as well so everything seemed to make sense really.

“I had a few different offers but being local was a factor and so was having a young goalkeeper here like Ted.

“I had the same with Matt Ingram when I was coaching at Wycombe and Terry had the same with Daniel Bentley here.

“It was a big attraction but it felt the right thing to do and I’m enjoying it here.

“I knew it was a good set up with a lot of good goalkeepers but it’s actually even better than I thought because there’s a real conveyor belt of goalkeepers coming through.”

Harrison - who coached at Leyton Orient before joining Blues - works predominantly with Oxley and Smith and has been encouraged by the strides they have made this season.

Smith has shone in the last three matches while Oxley had done likewise before suffering an elbow injury.

And Harrison believes they are both being rewarded for their hard work.

“No goalkeeper ever stops developing and they’re both very thorough in what they do,” said Harrison.

“We sit down with them all and look at ways of improving them.

“We continually film training, we look at clips and study it all and Ted and Mark have both been really good at that.

“After they were left out they really studied their game and wanted to be this, that and the other.

“They’ve taken a lot on board and being left out made them stronger. It toughened them up and they’re both firing now.

“They get on really well which is great so there’s a really good environment for them and Josh (Bexon) and Nathan (Bishop) to work in.”

However, Harrison is keen for the improvements to continue.

“We will be doing all we can with the goalkeepers we have here,” said the coach.

“It’s our job to give the manager a tough decision to make and I’m loving my part in continuing the good work that’s been done here.”