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Mansfield Town v Southend United – Sky Bet League Two – One Call Stadium – Saturday 3pm – Preview
It’s a tough one to call. On the one hand, it was refreshing to discover that Mark Molesley was frustrated with their first-half display and believing there is more to come from his Southend United side. On the other – and bearing in mind, the situation the Blues find themselves in – the result is always going to be far more important than the performance when you are deeply embroiled in a relegation battle.
Nevertheless, back-to-back league victories for the first time since October 2018 has injected hope, enthusiasm and a belief that the Blues can scamper clear of the trapdoor into non-league football.
“We’re definitely not getting carried away,” Molesley explained after the midweeks win over Grimsby Town.
“The first-half has given us a right slap around the face and shown that we have to be right on it all the time. We’ve given ourselves a fighting chance and the hard work continues.”
I mentioned in my preview ahead of Southend’s trip to Stevenage that only a bumper haul of points from the four fixtures ahead of Christmas would do. In fairness, Southend have so far delivered on that front and could climb out of the relegation zone with a win at Mansfield, coupled with other results going their way.
Indeed, the Stags currently occupy nineteenth place, without a win in three and are amongst the group of teams Molesley’s side will be targeting as the dogfight at the bottom becomes altogether more condensed.
“One game chalked off, we now go to work on the next game. It is boring, but it’s game by game,” it’s a sensible philosophy from the Blues boss who, despite the results, ultimately recognises that his side still props up the division.
But with any team, football or otherwise, momentum is key. Southend are currently eleventh in the current form table and should head to Nottinghamshire with a buoyant mindset.
“There are positive signs,” Molesley added.
“We’ve built on fitness, built on the platform and it’s just important that we keep our feet on the ground and keep working hard, and learn the lessons from today.”
Unquestionably, standards have risen at Roots Hall in recent weeks. But that old adage that the next match is the most important has never been more relevant to Southend United Football Club.
There’s a stack of work to do. The job on the pitch remains only a fraction done, while off it, there are still divisions between sections of the fans and the owner which remain severely fractured.
For Molesley to succeed and be seen as far more than a firefighter, he will need backing. Not only from the crowd – who these last two matches have been magnificent – but from within, as he strives for more quality in a group which has improved, but ultimately remains a little fragile.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Mansfield Town 1-1 Southend United