Blues Blundell Park stats make for grim reading

Grimsby Town v Southend United – Vanarama National League – Blundell Park – Friday (7:45pm) – Preview

Saturday, November 13 – 4:51pm – Roots Hall Stadium – Southend United 0-2 Woking – Damage report…

I haven’t done one of these for a while. And although I remain optimistic towards the Maher regime, It was as clear to me as it was to him that last weeks performance was overall poor and simply not good enough.

I think it should be noted that Blues have improved in small areas. Indeed, Roots Hall appears to be slightly more upbeat on a matchday with a reasonable percentage of the support mindful of the task in-hand and quietly confident in the managers’ ability to gradually change the clubs’ direction. It should also be acknowledged that pulling in a crowd of almost 6,000 when the team are struggling so badly is an enormous plus to the football club. Once again, cap doffed to the fans. They deserve so much better. 

Southend United supporters’ are largely trusting the process under Kevin Maher (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

We appear organised now – a little harder to break down. But quality, confidence and plain and simply ability, remains a huge issue. It’s not rocket science. We’ve now played eight of the teams in the top half of the table, picking up just a single point. Further evidence – because bizarrely, there are still some who demand to see it – that the players aren’t suited or good enough to compete in what is a ruthless Vanrama National League. 

Of course, this isn’t the fault of the manager. Recruitment under Mark Molesley and Phil Brown was questionable to say the very least. Although in fairness to both of them, what footballer with an ounce of ambition is going to set foot inside a club with Southend’s reputation?

Woking – a team that had lost four of its previous five outings – won quite comfortably. They were physically stronger, won all their individual battles and suffocated any threat from the host, which, to be honest, was minimal, at best!

We lack the creativity to play free-flowing football and are simply not strong enough to go direct. You can almost predict the result when the teams emerge from the tunnel. If the opposition, player-for-player, are bigger than us, then they will win. An influx of half a dozen suitable players will make us competitive, but no more than that. The cracks are now far too wide to paper over. The rebuild must be in full, though with so many substandard footballers to change, where would one start?

In the meantime, Stan Collymore was spotted at Chorley’s National League North clash with Kettering Town during the week. I doubt it was a social visit. Perhaps casting an eye over a potential signing or two? Magpies’ duo, Harry Cardwell and Connor Hall have since been bandied about as potential targets – the latter having found the net 43 times in 97 appearances. It’s a case of ‘watch this space’ I guess.

I must admit, reports suggesting the club had attempted to reengage with Elvis Bwomono, who has kicked a ball in anger since his contract at Roots Hall expired at the end of the last campaign, raised an eyebrow here.

Personally, I’m pleased that the player appears to have little or no interest in returning to the club. Again, that word potential has been banded carelessly around Roots Hall far too often in recent years and Elvis was no exception.

An attacking fullback who, to be quite honest, couldn’t defend and rarely managed to provide anything in attack. Southend United already possesses far too many footballers that need to be moved on without wasting their time attempting to draw one back in. We need to see positive signs that the recruitment process is changing for the better. I don’t believe the 22-year-old would have played anywhere near 133 first-team matches had the club not been in the savage predicament they were. 

Elvis Bwomono (right) has left the building (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Meanwhile, Blues were dealt a blow with the news that Jack Bridge has undergone knee surgery and will be missing for a considerable period. Another troublesome conundrum. The last thing Maher needed was one of his better players sidelined. We wish Jack a speedy recovery.

Anyway, next up is Grimsby Town, relegated with the Blues last season and the only team to finish below us as 101 years of league football went up in smoke. The question is, why are they so much better off than us now?

A starter for ten was the takeover at Blundell Park by 1878 Partners, a company owned by Andrew Pettit and Jason Stockwood. The ship has been steadied, the Mariners now have a sound platform on which to construct a potential return to the EFL and the supporter are buying into it and returning in their droves.

Admittedly, recent results have been a concern for Grimsby. Three-successive defeats suffered at the hands of Wealdstone, Notts County and Aldershot Town along with an FA Cup exit to Kidderminster Harriers. Nevertheless, they occupy third place in the table, three points shy of leaders Chesterfield.

Grimsby’s recruitment has been considerably better (you don’t say, Jeevesie!). A prime example is experienced frontman, Ryan Taylor. 

The 33-year-old was brought in from Newport County on a one-year deal. He has ably supported John McAtee in attack, while midfielder Harry Clifton has stepped up and chipped in with a few goals – the trio contributing fifteen of their 28 goals to date.

Blundell Park is far from a happy hunting ground for the Blues who have recorded just a single success in 28 attempts. And despite taking Grimsby’s recent wobble into account, I’m afraid I don’t see that statistic improving on Friday evening either. 

Jeevesie’s prediction: Grimsby Town 2-0 Southend United


Brian Jeeves

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