Port Vale v Southend United – Sky Bet League Two – Vale Park – Saturday 3pm – Preview
Wednesday, January 27 – 12:48 am…
I arrived home from South London several hours ago and busily continue summarising and scrutinising the reaction from managers and supporters following the previous evenings’ action.
BBC Radio 4 flirts softly in the background as I continue to type frantically – The Shipping Forcast. It’s actually quite therapeutic, but then the presenter issues a warning for the German Bight and Atlantic. ‘New lows expected’ – Hmm, my thoughts turn to Southend United’s forthcoming trip to Vale Park.
The seesaw has tipped, Blues are now into the second half of their Sky Bet League Two season. Those who believe there is still time to clamber away from the foot of the table are diminishing by the day – Southend’s 100-year stay in the Football League now hanging by a worn and fraying thread.
I’d like to be more positive, really I would. But as it stands, I haven’t got a lot to go on. Tuesday’s defeat to Bradford City – the Blues fifteenth of the season – didn’t really tell us anything new. Struggling to defend, weak in front of goal, out of their depth in what is actually a pretty poor league.
While the teams immediately above them have been active in the transfer market, Southend remains worryingly stagnant. Roots Hall remains empty due to the continuing pandemic but you only need to take a quick scroll through the clubs’ social media outlets to see just how angry and unhappy the supporter’s really are.
Neither Chairman, Ron Martin nor Manager Mark Molesley can be unaware of that fact. The league position the club finds itself in is unacceptable, the player recruitment – for some time it might be added – extremely poor. Surely neither are naive enough to believe there can only be anything other than one gloomy outcome?
I’m afraid I can’t defend Molesley after this latest setback. Admittedly, he was forced into changes due to injury and suspension, but the formation – five across the back – was unadventurous at a time when Blues need to be brave. However, I suppose there isn’t much to can do with a group limited in quality and low on confidence.
That Christmas renaissance, which briefly captivated the fans and offered a glimmer of hope, was constructed on a foundation of fight. But again, Southend appears to have mislaid that commodity. Without it, they are sunk.
“We’re aware of where we want to strengthen and we want to add quality to this group, not quantity,” Molesley explained ahead of the Bradford match.
“The Chairman is being fully supportive of everything we want to do and hopefully we will get the right people in to further enhance this group,” he added.
As I’ve said before, Southend’s demise isn’t a new thing. It hasn’t just appeared overnight. What is the reason behind it? The fans want answers, they want action. Sitting 92nd in the Football League suggests that isn’t happening.
Once again, don’t shoot the messenger. Look through the responses, they only need to have a glimpse (it’s pretty grim reading) to realise the fans are largely exhausted, hurt and are finding it difficult to believe that the club is either on a firm foundation or about to dramatically turn the corner any time soon.
Anyway, Port Vale. Another team who epitomise the inconsistent nature of the league. I covered their 2-0 victory at Roots Hall earlier in the campaign. Blues were bullied by frontman, Tom Pope, who will miss out this time due to injury – A one-sided contest if ever I saw one. At that time, Vale looked a surefire bet for promotion, or so I thought.
But the Burslem outfit lost their way, struggled for form and now find themselves in the bottom half of the table. Scunthorpe beat them during the week, and a win for Southend would move them within six points of the hosts. It’s probably as good a time as any to play them. Hope springs eternal.
Meanwhile, that Shipping Forcast adds a further warning of ‘gales in Rockall, Bailey and South-East Iceland ‘ – Unsettling weather conditions indeed. But then again, I guess it never rains but pours for sad, but loyal, Southend United fans at the moment.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Port Vale 2-0 Southend United