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Head coach Johnson urges players to be ‘physically and mentally stronger’ following third league defeat in a row

Southend United 2, Barnsley 1

(SkyBet League One)

Reds head coach Lee Johnson has called on his team to be ‘physically and mentally stronger’ after they slumped to their third league defeat in a row.

Barnsley had actually led at Roots Hall on Saturday – fired in front by Josh Scowen’s first half penalty – but they ended up with nothing but a long journey back north to show for their efforts.

Southend, meanwhile, continued their surge up the League One table, with boss Phil Brown delighted with a fifth win in six matches, and the Shrimpers’ first success over Barnsley since 1995.

Over 400 Reds’ fans had made the long journey to Roots Hall and were left frustrated and bemused at yet another disappointing defeat.

Boss Lee Johnson said afterwards: “We have to be physically and mentally stronger. Credit to Southend because they imposed their strength on us.

“After we scored we looked all right and comfortable. But we didn’t see off the half and were punished.

“We need everybody to come together. There are three losses on the spin in the league and we have to rectify that.”

Looking to end a run of back-to-back league defeats, Johnson retained the three centre-halves he had used in the midweek Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win at Bradford and brought back Josh Scowen after suspension. Arsenal teenager Dan Crowley returned to the starting line-up too, with Conor Hourihane ruled out injured.

But there was plenty of head-scratching among the Barnsley supporters when news came through that Sam Winnall, seen by many as the best forward the Reds possess, had been dropped to the bench alongside Cardiff winger Kadee Harris, with Swindon loan striker Michael Smith given the nod up front.

Crowley’s fifth minute effort was ruled out due to an offside flag, but the visitors went in front after 24 minutes, Scowen coolly converting from the penalty spot after home ‘keeper Dan Bentley had brought down Marley Watkins

However, Southend levelled in the 36th minute through Anthony Wordsworth and then Luke Prosser tapped home the winner from close range in the second half.

Southend (4-4-2): Bentley; White, Bolger, Prosser, Coker; Leonard, Wordsworth, Timlin, Weston; Pigott, Mooney. Subs: Smith, Payne, Atkinson, Hurst, McLaughlin, Rea, Williams.

Barnsley 5-4-1: Davies; Wabara, Roberts, Mawson, Nyatanga, G Smith; Scowen, Pearson, Crowley, Watkins; M Smith. Subs: Townsend, Winnall, Harris, Digby, Bree, White, Jackson.

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Surrey).


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