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Eastleigh v Southend United – Vanarama National League – Silverlake Stadium – Saturday (3pm) Preview
With the finer points of the takeover being ironed out, the focus at Southend United has been very much on football.
Indeed, it makes a welcome change to be scribing such positivity coming out of Roots Hall Stadium. The Blues returned to winning ways against a handily placed FC Halifax Town side, while our defensive ranks have been bolstered by the signing of highly rated Adam Crowther from National League North club King’s Lynn Town for an undisclosed fee.
We’ll start at the top and that three-goal triumph over a Halifax side that was occupying a play-off place ahead of kick-off.
In truth, I think the game was a little more difficult than the scoreline suggested. Nevertheless, boosted by an early goal from Hendry Sandat, Southend held their shape and nerve before a second-half brace from Gus Scott-Morriss killed the contest.
Another sizable crowd – numbering 6,772 – witnessed events. Midfielder, James Morton, recruited from Weston-super-Mare, was handed his first start and impressed before making way twelve minutes from time for Cav Miley, who was returning from a lengthy absence through injury.
Following those back-to-back defeats at the hands of Barnet, Kevin Maher was naturally delighted with this charges’ toil: “The worry is always that confidence drains when you don’t win games, so it’s the perfect response to result results to win and win comfortably in the end,” the Blues boss enthused.
“The most important thing was to get the win, especially against a team that’s so well-drilled and so difficult to break down. To come away with three goals and a clean sheet is a really, really good result.”
Meanwhile, our new recruit Crowther was saying all the right things after arriving in south-east Essex: “It feels brilliant to get it all done and I’m just looking forward to getting going,” he said.
“It’s gone back a while but I’ve just had to focus on playing for my previous club while waiting for it to happen. I’m glad that it’s all done now.
“It’s an exciting time with a lot of ambition, and I’ve got the same ambition as the club. The lads have done brilliantly throughout the season, and hopefully, we can push on and see where it takes us.”
Of course, we wish him well.
Notably, a huge influx of new blood hasn’t been forthcoming. Maher had spoken out about transfer targets being leaked, possibly from within the club. However, it must be remembered that the rebuilding of the football club includes trust. Agents and potential signings will want evidence that things have changed at Southend United before putting pen to paper. That could take time.
I think it is also worth noting that John Still will be selective in his targets. In the past, the Blues’ have often been guilty of trying to force the wrong piece into the jigsaw. Of course, there are no guarantees when any club sign a new player. But I’d imagine the days of make-do and mend are behind us, especially if the ultimate aim is to challenge for a return to the Football League.
I wouldn’t be surprised if another player comes in before the weekend. A striker and goalkeeper perhaps a priority? In the meantime, Southend head to Eastleigh to face a side whose minds might be elsewhere just now.
The Spitfires are currently six points and four places above the Blues in the Vanarama National League table. Nevertheless, they can be forgiven for focusing on next Tuesday’s Emirates FA Cup replay with Newport County at the Silverlake Stadium, with the winners set to host the twelve times winners, Manchester United.
Chris Maguire’s late penalty earned Eastleigh another bite of the Cherry against Newport. No doubt, they have goals in the side. One-time Blues target, Paul McCallum, has scored 24 times in 23 games, while Scott Quigley and Maguire have nine apiece.
But with nothing but football for Maher, his staff and the players to get their teeth into, the game provides an opportunity to edge further away from the relegation zone. I believe the Blues are capable of bringing something back from the south coast. A share of the spoils wouldn’t be a bad return as we continue to evolve into something close to what we all desire.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Eastleigh 1-1 Southend United