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Shrimpers net decent return from recent run of fixtures

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 12, 2013

By DAVID THOMAS

OPPWATCH_Kevan_Hurst

DANGER MAN: Southend United's Kevan Hurst

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TORQUAY United seem to be running into a series of teams in form at the moment, and Saturday's visitors Southend United certainly fill that bill.

Phil Brown's side went through a spell of six games without a win in late-August and September, but they've put that run firmly behind them since.

The Shrimpers have won nine of their last 13 games and are unbeaten in seven.

That spell has included away FA Cup wins at Morecambe (3-0) and Chesterfield (3-1) last Saturday, earning them a home tie against Millwall in Round Three.

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Former Derby, Hull and Preston boss Brown is entrusting goalkeeping duties to 20-year-old youth graduate Daniel Bentley, over the experienced Phil Smith.

Brown has shaken up his defence this season.

Ex-Port Vale youngster Luke Prosser has survived from last season's team at centre-back.

But Brown added ex-Colchester duo John White and Ben Coker during the summer, and recently brought in 22-year-old centre-back Rob Kiernan on loan from Wigan.

Despite that excellent Cup win at Chesterfield, Brown will at least reconsider his midfield, if only because Will Atkinson is back from suspension.

Brown had Atkinson under him at Hull, and then snapped up his former protege from Bradford City in the close-season.

Atkinson will have to get the talented Conor Clifford (Chelsea, Leicester) out of the side, because experienced duo Michael Timlin (Fulham, Swindon) and Marc Laird (Millwall, Orient) have been regular picks in central midfield.

Brown has been going with three up front – Kevan Hurst (see Player To Watch), Barry Corr and Anthony Straker.

Centre-forward Corr (Sheffield Wed, Swindon, Exeter) might well have had an even better career but for a series of injuries, but the Irishman still has an excellent strike-rate – he's hit 39 goals in 74 starts for Southend over the last three-and-a-half years.

Straker played mostly on the left wing, or even left wing-back, during five years at Aldershot.

But he's enjoying a good spell in attack under Brown, with five goals so far.

If his side is struggling to break opponents down – not that it's happened too often of late – Brown can always turn to proven strikers Freddy Eastwood, now in his second spell at his local club after big-money moves to Wolves and Coventry, and Craig Reid (Newport, Stevenage, Aldershot), as well as ex-trainee Seedy Ngie.

There is defensive cover in Mark Phillips (Millwall, Brentford) and Watford loanee Adam Thompson.

And midfield options include former Plymouth youngster Ryan Leonard and youngsters Jack Payne and Jack Edwards.

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