Hand in Glove…

Southend United v Yeovil Town – Vanarama National League – Roots Hall Stadium – Tuesday (7:45pm) – Preview

I don’t want to speak too soon, but Kevin Maher is beginning to get a tune out of the proverbial broken instrument.

Sure, when I started supporting Southend United some five decades ago, squeezing a single-goal success at Weymouth wasn’t high on my list of ambitions for my new charges. But having subsequently learned that when it’s good, it’s really good, and when it’s bad, it’s bloody awful, you have to take stock of the situation, take a deep breath, and assess accordingly.

I mentioned ahead of the trip west that this was a must-win for Southend. To their credit, the team largely delivered. 

Three points and a clean sheet on the road is not to be sniffed at. Sure, the margin of victory should have been wider, and no doubt a better side might have punished us for not killing the contest. 

But while Southend United remain in the footballing version of ‘The Priory’ I’ll take what I can get. Personally, I believe the Blues have the right people running the playing side of things and while the rehab might take some time, this was another tentative step in the right direction.

For me, the most notable plus from the game was the continued resurgence of Matt Dennis. The Norwich City loanee bagged his third goal in as many games – each of which has been stylish and suggested that he has finally come to the party… (I’m sure I’ve heard that line before somewhere?)

The 19-year-old’s latest effort displayed his pace, power, determination and above all, a cool finish. Ollie Harfield will reluctantly verify that this boy can bully defenders. The Weymouth man was left on the seat of his pants and the Blues frontman chased him down, brushed him aside and raced clear on goal. Both the player and management deserves credit. The lad is playing with a smile on his face – that has to come from within.

Harrison Neal, the latest of the Sheffield United connection, looked useful. An early booking left him rather treading on eggshells. Nevertheless, there was a reasonable amount of evidence in his performance to suggest this is a decent acquisition by Maher, with Darren Currie’s undoubted input of course.

Anyway, Blues are now unbeaten in three in all competitions and have accumulated eight points from the last fifteen on offer, which stands up quite well alongside any other side in the bottom half of the National League table, and indeed at least three further up.

Now before you think I’m getting carried away with myself, really, I’m not. Southend United have always been likely to push the self-destruct button. I know that – you know that, in fact, they probably know that too! But as it stands, we are where we are for a reason. Once again, I know that – you know that, one game at a time and next up is Yeovil Town.

Old adversaries from that famous 2004/05 promotion season from League Two, like ourselves, the Glovers have fallen on tough time and are looking, for want of a better word, to regroup.

While Southend picked up the points at Weymouth, Yeovil was handed a reminder of what once was with a full house at their Huish ground witnessing Championship leaders, AFC Bournemouth progress from a keenly contested Emirates FA Cup third-round tie. Their coffers substantially boosted, it remains to be seen how much energy they have left after giving every ounce against a strong Cherries side.

Yeovil’s recent league form has been patchy. Back-to-back defeats at the hands of local rivals, Torquay United have dented their play-off ambitions. Nevertheless, victories over Wrexham, Bromley and Dagenham & Redbridge, all on the road, is ample proof that they are more than capable.

Joe Quigley, Adi Yussuf and Charlie Wakefield have provided the bulk of the goals. The top seven certainly isn’t out of reach for the South Somerset club.

Despite Southend’s recent upturn in fortunes, this provides Maher’s men with a step up, a ‘where we are right now ‘ moment. I think it’s naive to think that we are on a roll. But a share of the spoils isn’t beyond the Blues and I think we have enough about us to snatch a battling and important point.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-1 Yeovil Town

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]

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