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Dover Athletic midfielder Jai Reason says Whites sensed Sol Campbell's Southend were there for the taking in FA Cup tie

Man-of-the-match Jai Reason grew up with a soft spot for Southend, but the Dover midfielder said that counted for nothing in Sunday's FA Cup first round tie at Crabble.

The Essex-based 29-year-old, who lives in Benfleet, admitted that if Whites could have picked any team to play from League 1, it would have been Southend.

Sol Campbell’s side are 22nd in the table after winning just one of their 17 games and Reason said that made them ripe for a shock.

Jai Reason comes away with the ball against Southend on Sunday Picture: Tony Flashman
Jai Reason comes away with the ball against Southend on Sunday Picture: Tony Flashman

Whites, 12th in the National League, duly obliged when 19-year-old substitute Ruel Sotiriou – on loan from Leyton Orient – scored the only goal six minutes from time.

Reason, a West Ham supporter who grew up watching Southend as a youngster, explained: “I could sense it, I could smell it, the upset, that’s why the cameras were here and I think our players knew that and we grew into the game.

“We had chance after chance, we just did not have that final bit of quality but Ruel (Sotiriou) is a fox in the box and what a finish it was, the power, it was probably what we needed because we were knocking on the door.

“The clock was ticking and I was thinking ‘Is it going to happen?’ but if you keep knocking on the door it's going to open.

“Today it was rocking and I know Southend brought a load down which added to the atmosphere.

“We’ll enjoy tonight but I’ve been on the end of some horrible defeats in the FA Cup, I’ve also been on the other end where I’ve got to the third round.

“You have to enjoy these moments because you never know what’s round the corner.

“You look at Southend at the moment, you can see they are up against it which is disappointing because they are close to my heart.”

Reason had not expected to play in Sunday’s game having picked up five league bookings – the last of them at Fylde the week before – but he now misses the game at Yeovil next week instead.

He explained: “I got booked last week against Fylde and I gave the referee an earful so I want to apologise to him because I did give him some stick, but the gaffer texted me during the week to say ‘You’re available’ so that was good, especially as I’m from Benfleet.

“I wanted to play against Southend, that was a bit of luck.”

Whites will travel to Stevenage or Peterborough in the next round after Monday night's draw. The ties are to be played over the weekend of November 30.

Winning clubs in round two receive £54,000 in prize money.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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