SOUTHEND United coach Dave Huzzey heaped praise on goalkeeper Ted Smith following the Shrimpers’ under 23 side’s 3-2 win at Bristol Rovers this afternoon.

Goals from Charlie Kelman, Emile Acquah and Eren Kinali saw Blues secure victory on the road.

But Huzzey felt the win would not have possible had it not been for Smith’s fine display between the sticks.

“It was an excellent performance and we played some good stuff but Ted definitely kept us in the game at times,” said Huzzey.

“He made some really good saves at crucial points in the game and was a key part in us getting a good win.”

Blues broke the deadlock at the Memorial Stadium with a well-taken effort from Kelman who glanced the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

A trio of fine saves from Smith kept the Shrimpers in front before the visitors doubled their lead with Acquah stabbing the ball into the back of the net from close range in the second half.

Rovers replied with a spell of pressure which they were unable to make pay before Blues extended their lead 10 minutes from time when Kinali fired home from close range after Isaac Hutchinson’s free-kick had bounced back off the post.

The strike seemed to have made sure of victory for the Shrimpers but Rovers had other ideas and staged a late fightback.

The Pirates got a goal back in the 89th minute when Deon Moore turned home an excellent Luca Hoole cross from the right flank.

And, deep into stoppage time, Hoole created another goal for the hosts as he teed up Harry Warwick to score.

The effort made for a frantic finale in the Shrimpers’ under 23 side’s final game of the season.

But Southend were still able to secure a victory, much to the relief of Huzzey.

“I think we thought we had done enough to get the win and there’s definitely a lesson to be learnt there because it nearly cost us at the end,” said Huzzey.

“But we had chances at the other end to score more and overall it was a good display apart from the final few minutes when Bristol Rovers scored their two goals.”

Southend United: Smith, Howard, Taylor, Knock, Clifford, Klass, Hutchinson, Batlokwa, Kelman, Wabo, Acquah