Southend United secured a big win against Chesterfield this weekend, putting the troubles around the club to one side to end the Spireites’ 14-game unbeaten run.
The Shrimpers scored twice after the break, cancelling out Will Grigg’s first-half opener. Not only did it bring Paul Cook’s side’s unbeaten run to an end, but it also came after they had won 13 of their previous 14 matches. The result lifted Kevin Maher’s side to 14th in the table; without their points deduction, they’d be fifth.
The result was in stark contrast to that of two years prior when Chesterfield dished out a 4-0 hammering at Roots Hall. Fans came onto the pitch, manager Phil Brown was sacked after a protest, and a Danny Rowe hattrick sent the home fans away doubly unhappy. For one player in particular, it left an indelible mark.
“That defeat against Chesterfield was literally my worst day in football,” 28-year-old Jack Bridge told The Echo News. “It was horrible. We were two or three down, the fans came on the pitch and we get told to go in there. The ref was calling for us to come back out and finish the game. It was a real, real low at the time and just so horrible.”
Despite the point deduction, there’s a more positive feel around the club. Maher’s side has lost just once in their last nine matches, including a five-match winning run that has pushed them away from the lower reaches of the division. That’s a turnaround that isn’t lost on Bridge.
“But you see the turnaround now and what’s been achieved. It’s like night and day, and we showed what we’re about by beating Chesterfield.”
He also told local radio he feels that his side can still achieve something this season, even with the ten-point deduction. The side are only seven points outside the top seven at present and are aiming to go one better than their finish of eighth last season.
“It’s not a write-off; it’s not like we can just think about next season or anything like that,” he added. “We still want to do something this year, and results like that prove that we can.”
Bridge came through the ranks with Southend, his home town team, before spells with Northampton, Carlisle, Concord Rangers and Bromley. He returned to Roots Hall in 2021 and has racked up 90 appearances and 19 goals since his return.
His side are next in action this Saturday when they travel to high-flying Gateshead before Wealdstone’s visit on December 2nd.
Southend have been through some serious issues, and they’re not totally out of the woods yet, but there’s a definite feeling that they’re on the right track. Their performance on Saturday was strong, and whilst they got a bit of luck with an own goal and a penalty, few could begrudge them their win.
For Bridge, it must be even more special, having come up through the ranks with the club and having been there at their nadir. He’s been out of the Football League for a few seasons now, but it would be some story if they made the playoffs with a ten-point deduction.
Like their win against the Spireites, few could begrudge them their moment after what they’ve been through.