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Southend United v Colchester United – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 1pm – Preview
A run of four matches without defeat has lifted hope and expectations amongst the supporters of Southend United.
Of course, the addition of one or two ‘older heads’ has made a world of difference amidst a group of youngsters who I believe largely are of National League South standard. All of a sudden one or two leaders have emerged and the Blues have half a chance of getting themselves out of the biggest mess in their 114-year history.
Now I’m afraid I’ll upset a few Blues die-hards here. For that, I apologies, but I believe honesty is the best policy. Despite the recent improvement, this remains the weakest squad I’ve ever seen at Southend and is, at best, even with the recent additions, a bottom-five group.
For me, and particularly during the early weeks of his tenure, manager, Mark Molesley, at times, appeared out of his depth. However, his willingness to learn on the job – coupled with an enthusiasm I’ve not seen since the early days of Dave Smith at Roots Hall – is hugely exhilarating and should be embraced by Blues players and fans alike. It has noticeably started to pay dividends, albeit on a small scale.
But a lack of quality and depth remains an issue. Ahead of festive derby matches with Colchester United and Leyton Orient a simple fact remains – If they both turn up and play to the best of their ability, they will win.
There, I’ve said it. I’m sure some Blues fans will be fuming – some will hurt – I do – I’ve followed the clubs’ fortunes for the best part of five decades. Even the dark days of the mid-80 weren’t as bad as this!
Nevertheless, let’s focus on the positives. Southend has recently discovered a bit of momentum – a vital commodity in any sporting team. Blues also possesses a fanbase that – despite external differences and disputes – are clearly behind Molesley and his charges.
And there’s one other thing as well. Having seen the vast majority of the teams in League Two – some on two or three occasions – the lack of consistency is alarming. Nobody really stands out, the standard is mediocre and you never quite know what you’re going to get?
And that could play into a battling Southend’s hands. As I said, I’ve no doubt that a full-strength, firing on all cylinders Colchester would come, see and conquer on Boxing Day. But the truth is, the U’s inadequacies have been alarmingly exposed of late. Most recently by a powerful Morecambe side who bullied and bossed their way to three points at the JobServe with the minimum of fuss, leaving followers of the North Essex club questioning manager, Steve Ball, and the aptitude of his charges?
Southend remains bottom of the EFL, but they go into this particular derby as the in-form side and with momentum.
Whether that will be enough is up for debate. But Molesley’s new-found formula, perhaps based on a siege mentality, sustained effort and a strong work ethic will match misplaced ability and get results against opponents who are off colour or who simply take their talent for granted.
Southend United, improved as they have, remain in serious trouble and things can quickly turn against you if you don’t possess the mental strength to move forward positively and overcome what is immediately in front of you.
Blues have shown over the past four games that this is possible. Unquestionably, Molesley needs reinforcements once the transfer window opens. But in the meantime, if he and his team can enhance this momentum and enthusiasm over the Christmas period, these vitally important derbies with the inconsistent U’s and O’s could go some way towards shaping the rest of their season.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-1 Colchester United