FORMER Southend United striker Matt Rush heads into the Essex Senior Cup final with Braintree Town tonight reaping the benefits of playing regular first team football.

Rush joined the Iron in the summer after being released by the Shrimpers who he had been with since a young age.

And the 22-year-old cannot wait for tonight’s showdown against Concord Rangers.

“I think regular first team football has definitely benefited me,” said Rush.

“National League South isn’t easy and there are a lot of good teams so it’s been a good learning curve and I feel like I have got better as a player with more game time and more experience too.

“The final will be another test but we can’t wait.

“It’s a nice distraction from the league and us and our fans have been really enjoying this cup.

“It will be a tough game but we are confident and it would be nice to get some silverware.”

Braintree will go into tonight’s final, which is being played at Colchester United’s Community Stadium, as strong favourites due to their superior league position.

The Iron are currently fifth in National League South with Concord at the foot of the table.

But Rush is only focusing on Braintree’s form and feels they have made big improvements throughout the season.

“We only had six or seven players for the first day of pre season but I think we have got better and better since the first game of the season,” said Rush.

“We have a good group with good players and it’s been really enjoyable.

“I had a little injury at the start of the season but since then I’ve played in pretty much every game and think it’s helped me playing a full season to learn a lot. “ Rush is also joined in the Braintree squad by fellow ex Shrimpers Leon Davies and John White and continues to keep an eye on his former club’s results.

“Me, Whitey and Leon get along well and it’s nice to be able to move club and see familiar faces,” said Rush.

“We always check on the Southend results after the game and are hoping we both reach the play-offs.

“We’d also love to win the cup on Tuesday night.”

However, Concord will have similar aspirations tonight.

And Beach Boys skipper Aron Pollock wants it to be a memorable night for his side.

“We’re all looking forward to Tuesday night’s cup final and it’s a chance to give our committed supporters a night to remember,” said Pollock.

“We’ve got a great history in this competition and I look forward to leading us out in the final.

“ It will be tough but you have to go in to these games confident that you can get the result and bring the trophy back to Concord.”

And the cup clash also gives the Beach Boys a break from their fight against relegation  "We’re taking each game as it comes and focusing on ourselves," said Pollock.

"The squad are trying incredibly hard to keep this club in the division and we’ll keep focusing on ourselves and doing everything we can to keep the club here rather than looking at those around us."