Dover Athletic v Southend United – Vanarama National League – Crabble Athletic Ground – Saturday (3pm) – Preview
Three minutes to go at the EBB Stadium – Aldershot Town 1-0 Southend United…
Nathan Ferguson operating on the left for Blues – He’s picked out Harry Cardwell, who has glanced it beyond Walker in the Shots goal – IT’S THERE! Blues level and now unbeaten in five league matches for the first time since…
Well, let’s be honest, it seems like a million years, doesn’t it! Another late goal. Further proof that this team has a bit of fight about them and are playing for the manager, the supporters and above all, the shirt. What a time to be alive!
A point on the road – particularly in such a ruthless league – is always welcome. Blues’ enjoyed plenty of the ball, but in all fairness, the outcome was probably about right.
Without the injured Matthew Dennis, Southend needed someone to stand up and be counted. Cardwell’s goal, in only his second appearance, will undoubtedly give him a lift, relieve some of the pressure and endear him to the supporters, who once again, travelled in sizable numbers.
Sure, there will be one or two eyebrows raised over me getting carried away over a draw at Aldershot. However, let’s keep it real. Blues’ needed to keep the momentum alive. Not just ahead of Saturday’s trip to Dover, but just to serve notice that there has been a change at Southend United.
Of course, it would be foolish to perceive that Southend is anywhere near the finished article. By his own admission, Kevin Maher appeared a little concerned that his side hadn’t created enough in front of goal. Indeed, we remain amongst the lowest scorers in the league. Defensively, Southend looks an entirely different prospect but discovering the ruthless streak required to put an opponent away needs polishing. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Notable progress on the pitch has been made. The next target must be working our way towards the top half of the table, otherwise known as ‘nosebleed territory’ if you’ve supported Southend United for anything less than five years.
As I mentioned earlier, Southend are heading to the Crabble Athletic Ground to face rock bottom Dover Athletic at the weekend. The scene of an embarrassing FA Cup defeat during Sol Campbell’s disastrous tenure provided sufficient clues of what was to follow as we not so much tumbled, but hurtled downwards at an alarming rate of knots.
I still remember the angry reaction from the fans at full-time. The utter shock on Campbell’s face at the post-match press conference. These were dark times and although there are still troublesome clouds hanging over us, at least we can find some sort of sanctuary in what is being served up on the pitch for the first time in, well, as I said before, it seems like a million years, doesn’t it!
Southend largely put that nightmare behind them earlier in the campaign when Dover were dispatched by four goals to one at Roots Hall Stadium – Maher’s first victory in the Roots Hall hot seat. However, we must be mindful of the Kent clubs’ struggles and respect the fact they will be on a high after Alfie Pavey’s goal saw off Eastleigh on Tuesday evening, handing Andy Hessenthaler’s men their first victory in 25 attempts.
Although it still appears unlikely that they will avoid the drop, the opportunity to dish out the odd ‘bloody nose’ will whet Hessenthaler’s appetite. Southend’s collective feet must remain firmly on the ground.
Nevertheless, again, this is a winnable game for Southend. I’d wager the away following will outnumber the home. Blues fans won’t require a second invitation to ‘noise it up’ and get behind a manager and group of footballers who are slowly but surely restoring some pride through honest endeavour and commitment.
I, for one, remain cautious. But I’m enjoying what I see and believe there is scope for optimism, at least on the pitch, anyway.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Dover Athletic 0-1 Southend United