The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Les Scott

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.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age

STAR MAN MAT SADLER Shrews­bury HAIR RAISER: Shrews­bury’s Ju­nior Brown takes the plau­dits af­ter scor­ing the game’s only goal

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