BROWN IRATE AT LACK OF BOTTLE
SOUTHEND boss Phil Brown believes his side choked at the crucial moment as a goal from full-back Junior Brown severely dented hopes of a play-off place.
It was defender Brown’s fifth goal of the season and helped move Paul Hurst’s side six points clear of the relegation places, all but ensuring survival.
The Shrimpers, meanwhile, must win their final game and depend on Millwall dropping points in order to make the playoffs.
They are a point behind the sixth-placed Lions and boss Phil Brown admits his team didn’t deliver with the pressure on.
“I’m disappointed and gutted,” said a forlorn Brown. “We were playing a team fighting for their lives and didn’t produce anywhere near the fight and determination required.
“You could say, as a team we didn’t show the bottle.
“It was a poor goal to concede. The guy runs free and then enjoys a free header.
“What is more, it was a harmless-looking corner that went across our six-yard box. It should have been cleared.
“We now have to depend on others if we are to make the play-offs. We’ve brought pressure upon ourselves, I find that disappointing too.”
Southend’s Christian Walton was by far the busier keeper in the first half.. The Brighton loanee saving well from Shaun Whalley, Ryan Yates and twice from Stefan Payne as Shrewsbury pressured. Southend, roared on by 1,400 travelling fans, were dangerous on the break, with former Forest man Stephen McLaughlin and Ryan Leonard using the ball to good effect.
For all their good approach work, Southend created few openings in the fist period. Their only effort on target being a Will Atkinson header, comfortably saved by Jason Leutwiler.
With the Shrimpers closing down quicker in midfield and not playing so deep, there were fewer opportunities for the home side after the break. It was Shrewsbury, however, who took the lead following a defensive lapse by Southend.
The Shrimpers failed to clear a corner from the left by Whalley, full-back Brown stole in at the far post to head home what proved to be a crucial goal for the Shrews.
Shrews fans took to the pitch at the end of the game but boss Hurst refused to be caught up in the celebration just yet.
“I have my cautious head on,” said Hurst, “For all it will take some crazy results for us to be relegated, until safety is certain, I will not relax and neither will the players.
“I felt we were by far the better side in the first-half. Southend had a little bout of pressure in the second but our goalkeeper was rarely troubled.
“When I came here we six points adrift of safety and bottom. Everyone has given their all to change things. We now have a great spirit at the club and there is evidence of real progress.”
STAR MAN MAT SADLER Shrewsbury HAIR RAISER: Shrewsbury’s Junior Brown takes the plaudits after scoring the game’s only goal