KEVIN Maher felt his Southend United under-23 team ended up beating themselves against Exeter City this afternoon.

The Shrimpers led 1-0 at the break at Boots & Laces with Amadou Ba on target from close range.

But the Grecians fought back to triumph 2-1, much to the frustration of Maher who felt Blues should have been able to secure victory.

“I thought we were more than comfortable being 1-0 up but then we didn’t deal with a corner,” said the former Shrimpers midfielder.

“We should have headed the ball clear but we didn’t so then it’s 1-1 and we’re chasing the game.

“After that we had to shuffle it around after injuries and we’ve been done by a ricochet in the box.

“But in the end we beat ourselves more than they beat us and it’s frustrating.”

And Maher has urged his young players to learn lessons from the setback.

“You can’t come away losing games like that,” said Maher.

“We were more than comfortable and if you do your jobs properly it’s a game we should win.

“They have to learn from this but in some ways I’m pleased with the lads.

“We were very good in the first half.

“The shape was good and we didn’t allow them to create anything.

“We took the goal well from a set piece which was pleasing but it’s just disappointing we haven’t got the result.”

However, there were still pleasing aspects for the Shrimpers, including the display of first year scholar Sam Brogan in a defensive midfield role.

“Sam looks like a young boy but his reading of the game is very good,” said Maher.

“The ball always seems to land on him and that’s not an accident.

“He has a good understanding of the game and I’m really pleased for him because he did well.”

Blues opened the scoring after just six minutes when Renei Batlokwa’s right wing cross was tapped home by Ba.

The Frenchman then fired against the foot of the left post from 20 yards before the Grecians hit back to equalise in the 58th minute with Aaron Martin on target.

The visitors then made sure of the win 11 minutes from time with Theo Simpson scoring from close range.

Southend United: Smith, Howard, Knock (Crowther 46), Okoma (Marah 74), Clifford, Batlokwa, Brogan, Egbri, Kinali (Rush 66), Ba, Phillips.

Substitutes not used: Seaden & Eastwood