SOUTHEND United boss Kevin Maher stressed Saturday’s 2-1 defeat against Rochdale took nothing away from what the Shrimpers have achieved this season.

Blues finished the National League campaign in ninth place after letting slip a one goal lead at Roots Hall.  

But Maher remains rightfully proud of how well the Shrimpers have been able to perform after overcoming a whole host of issues including a 10 point deduction.

“We’re disappointed today and I hate losing but what these players and the staff have done has been unbelievable,” said Maher.

“When we look back, it’s 75 points we’ve accumulated.

“We would be in the play-offs without the deduction and that’s the main takeaway for me.

“Pre-season we couldn’t train, we couldn’t go to the toilet at the training ground or shower.

“We had no food and still haven’t and had no subs.

“We had the embargo and I could go on and on so it’s incredible what these players have done.

“They’ve shown character and resilience and they deserve all the credit in the world.”

However, Maher is also saddened his squad will not get the rewards their efforts deserve.

“I feel for them because they should be going into the play-offs and maybe a trip to Wembley at the end of it,” said Maher.

“But we’re not and that’s through no fault of our own.

“We’ve got to get ourselves together and go again next season now but they deserve a rest and we all need a rest I think after what we’ve been through.”

Blues headed into the final day still with an outside chance of making the top seven.

But results elsewhere made the result of their match immaterial as the Shrimpers ultimately ended the campaign six points shy of the play-offs.

However, Maher was still frustrated his side could not kick on after Gus Scott-Morriss volleyed them in front after just eight minutes.

“We started well, got the goal and we were on top for large periods,” said Maher.

“We had a chance to make it 2-0 with (Danny) Waldron on the press but they’re a good side and they control the ball.

“If you don’t get your press right they can play through you.”

But it was a mistake from Ollie Kensdale which gifted Cian Hayes an equaliser before Devante Rodney netted a stoppage time winner for the visitors.

“We gifted them a goal just before half-time and then it went a bit flat second half,” said Maher.

“We made the changes with Wes (Fonguck) and Noor (Husin) coming on to give us more legs.

“Wes had a couple of chances he didn’t take and it was disappointing to lose in the end.

“But the overall picture is what a season this has been.

“We get fantastic support and all we wanted to do is give them a team to be proud of.

“These players have done that.”