Blues feet must remain firmly on the ground

Leyton Orient v Southend United – Sky Bet League Two – Breyer Group Stadium – Tuesday 7pm – Preview

Five without defeat – Off the bottom of the table – Essex derby success. These are halcyon times compared to… well.. almost any time over the past three seasons for Southend United!

Blues looked organised and energised during their 2-0 victory over Colchester United at Roots Hall, with Kyle Taylor, Timothee Dieng and John White particularly impressive and industrious. Sure, they didn’t see much of the ball, but they were economical, particularly during the early stages, then stood firm, more than matched the U’s in the personal and physical battles and closed the game out with minimum fuss. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was certainly honest and efficient from Mark Molesley’s charges – and that’s all the fans can ask for, and indeed, demand.

But now it’s time to get feet firmly back on the ground. Nothing has ever been achieved in football with five months of the season still to play. The derby success was met with euphoria – albeit via social media (Roots Hall would have been rocking with the best part of 10,000 Boxing Day occupants) – but it’s now in the past – Southend United remain embroiled in a desperate fight to avoid relegation.

Another derby offers an opportunity to make further ground. Indeed, on current form, it’s fair to suggest that the Blues might be heading to off-colour Leyton Orient as favourites? However, football has a nasty habit of pulling the rug from under you. Southend will need to replicate Saturday’s performance, and some, if they are to extend their impressive sequence and remain in touch with those immediately above them in the Sky Bet League Two table.

The O’s – like so many in this division – offer an unknown threat. Like Colchester, I’ve witnessed both sides of them when covering matches at the Breyer Group Stadium.

Danny Johnson and Conor Wilkinson have provided the best part of 30 goals this season while Jobi McAnuff, even at 39, provides energy and experience which would be a welcome addition in any League Two side. Surely, his footballing knowledge won’t be allowed to go to waste when he eventually decides to hang up his boots?

But there’s a flipside. Inconsistency, both in performances and team selection. And most recently, a worrying inability to kill games off from a winning position. Orient have lost each of their last three league outings and have lost ground on the top-seven.

As I mentioned in my pre-Colchester preview. Like the U’s, I believe Orient possess an altogether more talented group than Southend. But when it comes to grit and determination I’d seriously question whether the East Londoners can match their Essex neighbours right now?

And that vital commodity might prove sufficient as the Blues attempt to take another small step towards safety.

Molesley’s side must use this momentum effectively. No unbeaten run lasts forever so points need to be accumulated as swiftly as possible. Colchester will undoubtedly have analyzed their defeat at Roots Hall, as will the Blues immediate opponents. The task now requires experience, a professional approach. Foundations have been laid, but the building work remains in its infancy. Quality must be added but in the meantime, effort and endeavour must be utilised with maximum effect.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Leyton Orient 1-2 Southend United

Brian Jeeves

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