Phil Brown hailed the character of his Southend United team after they secured promotion to Sky Bet League 1 with a penalty shoot-out victory over Wycombe Wanderers.Trailing from a Joe Jacobson free-kick, which went in via the back of goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, the Shrimpers snatched an injury-time equaliser in extra-time through Joe Pigott before winning 7-6 on spot-kicks.
He said: “The first question everybody asks is, ‘were you losing your belief?’
“I actually thought about my belief, and questioned myself, after we got beat 2-1 by Burton Albion.
“But these players pulled me through - their great characters, their great spirits.
“They’ve dragged me through this year and again today. It’s a real pleasure to be involved with this group of players.”
The Play-Off promotion was Brown’s second as a manager, after his 2008 Championship success with Hull City.
Dean Windass was the Tigers’ match-winner that day, with a spectacular volley, while goalkeeper Bentley was the Shrimpers’ hero, saving from Matt Bloomfield and Sam Wood in the shoot-out.
While his players ran to the young stopper to celebrate, Brown consoled Wycombe Wanderers boss Gareth Ainsworth and reserved praise for his opposite number in his post-match press conference.
“The Play-Offs are a phenomenal spectacle,” Brown added. “I think they are a great invention.
“Probably more for players than managers but listen, being here twice and winning it twice - I must be doing something right.
“It was just about pure pressure; pure bottle - and holding yourself together. And you’ve got to say our lads fulfilled the achievement today.
“There’s lots of things I like about Gareth. He said to me when we lost the toss for the penalty shoot-out, ‘why don’t we stand hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder?’
“We agreed immediately, and that shows you the class of the guy."
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