Braintree Town 1-2 Southend United
By Brian Jeeves
SIMON Cox and Marc-Antoine Fortune were both on target as ten-man Southend United edged out National League South side, Braintree Town, by two goals to one in what was a keenly contested pre-season friendly match at the Ironmongery Direct Stadium.
Tigerish midfielder Michael Timlin was shown a straight red card just before the hour mark, this after the Southend man reacted a poor challenge by Braintree’s Scott Shulton. While the Iron briefly levelled the score when Karl Oliyide converted a far post cross from Ben Wyatt five minutes before the break.
Nevertheless, Blues manager Phil Brown was keen to focus on his side’s performance and pinpoint where they could improve. Speaking to the Blues official website, Brown said: “I got as strong a team out as I could possibly muster, apart from Nile Ranger, Ryan Leonard, Anthony Wordsworth, Ben Coker. I’d never bemoan any of that because that’s pre-season, but we put a fairly strong team out and ended up 2-1 up at half time.
“It was a sloppy goal to concede and there were a couple of chances they had that were sloppy. Passing the ball wasn’t as crisp as I would like, but it’s two weeks into pre-season so I’m expecting it to improve.
“I expect the players to improve in terms of their mentality and their movement, and their fitness, and their performance, and that’s what comes in pre-season.”
The Blues chief added: “It’s so frustrating as a manager to have to stand here and make excuses for whatever. You’ll probably look at the result and go “we’ve won the game,” but it was poor.
“There’s a lot of work to be done in many, many areas, but we know that the lads are only two weeks into it. Some are behind others like Jason Demetriou because of his international duty, Anton Ferdinand is behind it because of personal circumstances, so we’re all at different levels at the moment.
“My job is to get them fitter and get them all on the same level come the 5th of August."
New signings Michael Turner, Michael Kightly and Stephen Hendrie all feature in the match. Blues took the lead when Cox nodded home John White’s cross. And despite Oliyide’s leveller, Marc-Antoine Fortune produced a cool finish to restore Southend’s lead a minute before half-time.
Speaking about Timlin’s sending off, Brown said: “It’s an unfortunate incident. Michael felt there was an infringement before that hadn’t been seen by the referee where the lad tried to take him out with a knee-high challenge – that’s his answer to it, but, as an experienced pro, I can’t accept that.
“It’ll be dealt with internally and we’ll see where we take it. At the end of the day, in a pre-season friendly to be sent off in a game – the referee had to do it, he has assessors in the stand, he has cameras watching, so if he doesn’t do his job to the best of his ability he suffers a suspension as opposed to Michael.
“We’ll see what the FA throw at us and we’ll deal with it.”