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Match Previews

2015/16 preview - introducing Southend United FC

14 June 2015

Meet Millwall's League One opponents


Founded: 1906

Stadium: Roots Hall

Nickname: The Blues, Shrimpers

Position: Fifth in League Two

Manager: As both a player and a manager, Southend boss Phil Brown has a wealth of experience. His playing career spanned more than 600 matches over 18 years, and his managerial achievements include taking Hull City into the Premiership for the first time in their 104-year history.

Brown's playing career began in the Sunday Leagues in South Shields, his birthplace, and he soon signed his first professional contract down the road in Hartlepool in 1978. The hard-tackling full-back would spend the next seven years with 'Pool before joining Halifax. AFter three seasons with the Shaymen and he was off again, this time across-country to Bolton Wanderers in 1988, and then in 1994, to Blackpool.

His first taste in management came at Bolton, where he started taking his coaching badges. This progressed to a coaching role as an assistant to manager Sam Allardyce at his next club, Blackpool.

Brown's path towards management was tentative to say the least, and he would spend nine years in assistant manager roles at Blackpool and Bolton before finally being appointed his first full-time managerial position at Derby County in 2005. But it was not to be a happy association and, after a run of bad results, Brown was sacked seven months into his tenure.

His next appointment at Hull City proved far more fruitful for both parties. Brown finally found his managerial feet and although initially appointed as first team coach, with the departure of incumbent manager Phil Parkes, he was soon promoted to the position of joint caretaker boss alongside Colin Murphy. After dragging the club out of the relegation zone he was installed as permanent manager in January 2007.

The team blossomed under Brown's leadership, culminating in promotion to the Premiership the following season after beating Bristol City in the Play-Off Final at Wembley.

The team held onto their top flight status by a solitary point but the next year The Tigers won only one of their last 15 games and following relegation back to the Championship, Brown's contract was terminated.

He fared little better in his next appointment, taking over struggling Championship side Preston in January 2011. His arrival failed to galvanise the Lilywhites and the end of the season saw the team relegated to League One.

Despite steadying the ship at Deepdale and with Preston comfortably in mid-table, Brown was shown the door somewhat unfortunately in December.

Following a brief spell out of the game he returned as manager of present club Southend United in March 2013. and after consecutive Play-Off adventures, clinched promotion to League One this May.

Key player: Like any goalkeeper in the land, Daniel Bentley not only prides himself on keeping clean sheets - but also has a reputation as a bit of a penalty shut-out expert too.

A product of Southend's youth team, he signed his first senior contract in the summer of 2011 and made his professional debut in October that year as a second-half substitute for the injured Glenn Morris against Torquay United.

His first run of senior games came during the 2012/13 season, this time deputising for injured keeper Paul Smith.

By now, Bentley's reputation as an effective penalty stopper was starting to grow and he was often drafted into the first-team for Cup games which might, potentially, end in a penalty shoot-out.

In a Football League Trophy Southern Area Semi-Final, Bentley was brought on as a substitute in the 90th minute when it looked as if the game was heading for penalties. It was a controversial decision by manager Paul Sturrock, but Bentley did his job in the ensuing shoot-out and Southend ran out 5-3 winners.

By the 2013/14 season Bentley had cemented his position as first-choice keeper, keeping 19 clean sheets over the course of the season.

He continued to impress and the following campaign saw Bentley break the club record of 10 continuous home clean sheets as Southend United reached the League Two Play-Off Final against Wycombe Wanderers.

It was a game the Southend fans, packed into Wembley Stadium, would not forget. With the game all square after 90 minutes, Wycombe took the lead five minutes into extra-time. And Bentley was the scorer. A Wycombe free-kick rebounded off the cross-bar onto a diving Bentley's back, and into the goal. An incredible piece of bad luck for the keeper.

However, Southend equalised with a mere 20 seconds of the game remaining to take the game to penalties. In the ensuing shoot-out Bentley again rose to the task, saving twice, sending the Southend fans wild, and their team into League One.

The end of the season saw a raft of awards added to Bentley's personal trophy cabinet, winning the Supporter's Player of the Year award, the Player's Player of the Year award, and the Community Player of the Year award.

Top scorer: Barry Corr (15 goals)

Head-to-head: The Lions have the advantage over their seaside rivals in previous encounters, with 33 wins to The Shrimpers 25, with 22 meetings ending in a draw.

Last time we met: A rainy Saturday afternoon at Roots Hall proved to be a massive damp squib as The Lions' hopes of progressing in the FA Cup were destroyed by Southend on 24th January 2014.

It started badly for the lack-lustre Lions and once Southend striker Barry Corr had headed past David Forde in the Millwall goal in the 22nd minute, the writing was on the wall.

Shortly after this, both teams were led off into the changing rooms when the floodlights failed causing a 15 minute delay. But rather than allowing The Lions to settle and regroup, their day was about to become a whole lot worse. An ill-judged tackle by Jermaine Easter earned him a red-card on 45 minutes, and in the extra-time that followed, Will Atkinson added goal number two for The Shrimpers.

Ten minutes into the second-half, and it was Southend who were on target once more. This time, midfielder Michael Timlin joining the party to make it three for Southend.

Martyn Woolford reduced the arrears for Millwall in the 64th minute when his low volley from a Steve Morison cross eluded the Southend keeper.

But it was scant consolation for The Lions and their travelling supporters. Rather than heralding a comeback for Millwall, it was Southend who stretched their lead again in injury-time. This time Ryan Leonard burying the ball in the top corner of the net to compound a miserable rain-swept day for Millwall.

Southend United: Bentley, White (Phillips, 89mins),Thompson, Prosser, Coker, Timlin (Eastwood, 82mins), Clifford (Laird, 70mins), Leonard, Atkinson, Straker, Corr. Subs not used) Smith, Hurst, Payne, Woodrow.
Scorers: Corr (22mins), Atkinson (45+1min), Timlin (55mins), Leonard (90mins)

Millwall: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Lowry, Smith (Marquis, 78mins) Chaplow (Onyedinma, 62mins) Abdou, Bailey, Martin (Woolford, 46mins), Morison, Easter (s/o). Subs not used: Wright, Beevers, McDonald, Bywater.
Scorer: Woolford (64mins)

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