How soon is now?

Southend United v Carlisle United – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 1pm – Preview

Set the scene – scribing my thoughts ahead of the weekend’s games, The Smiths playing in the background – Southend has given themselves a lifeline, but the situation, like the music, still provides a dark undertone.

Damage report…

On the pitch, not so much damage as progress this week I’m pleased to report. All hands to the pump – the ship, still in peril, but looking a little more steady.

Harrogate Town 0-1 Southend United

Match: 38 Won: 8 Drawn: 11 Lost: 19 Points: 35 Position: 23rd Nils: 21

I’m delighted to hold my hands up and admit that on this occasion I got it wrong. Mark Molesley demanded bravery, his players provided it. Shots on goal – a clean sheet – and above all, three huge points while those around them faltered.

“Heavy words are so lightly thrown – But still, I’d leap in front of a flying bullet for you.

As the lyrics suggest, the Southend players put bodies on the line and played for the badge at the EnviroVent Stadium. Finally, a performance that matched the managers’ pre-match jabber, explaining ‘It’s a big challenge, but it’s one you can’t let swallow you; you have to run towards it.’ The Blues are back in it, but let’s not get too carried away, after all, it’s the hope that kills you!

Obviously, I’d like to see an altogether more ruthless Southend, but five shots on target is an improvement at a time when only winning will do. I’d imagine Blues need another eleven points from their final eight games. Still a tall order for a team that has scored just 23 times, nevertheless, a positive at a time when the club, and particularly the long-suffering supporters desperately need it. More of the same please, Mark.

This is now a time for cool heads. Southend faces a Carlisle United who beat Crawley to recorded only their second victory in fourteen during the week, offering a glimmer of hope in their push for a play-off place having appeared for some weeks to have headed for the beach.

Meanwhile, relegation rivals Walsall, Colchester and Barrow face tough Good Friday games against Harrogate, Bolton and Newport. I reiterate it’s not about them – survival will be achieved by this manager and these players. Win enough matches, Southend stay in the league, failing that… well, we all know the outcome.

What’s next? “You shut your mouth, how can you say – I go about things the wrong way?

Ah yes, as much as the win at Harrogate was a pleasant distraction, the infamous zoom meeting (available to view via the Shrimpers Trust YouTube Channel) between various supporters groups and Chairman, Ron Martin was, well, what did you think?

Paul Fitzgerald from the Shrimpers Trust expertly chaired the meeting. I have been critical of what I believe to have been a largely timid reaction from the Trust as the proverbial ‘pack of cards’ continues to totter. Nevertheless, again credit where it is due – Fitzgerald remained firm throughout, although what came across to me was an agitating game of Celebrity Squares – and as much as I’ll agree that it needed to take place, it made uncomfortable viewing.

Mr Martin’s opening salvo provided the evenings first ‘tumbleweed moment’ when he suggested that he’d been ‘doing that for the last 23 years,’ when introduced to the Save Our Southend group. Surely, had that particular task been carried out efficiently and effectively, Southend United wouldn’t have required such salvation for the best part of a quarter of a century under his stewardship? Meanwhile, some of the unsavoury language used in a meeting that the Chairman agreed to be filmed and surely knew would be published in the public domain was ill-advised, particularly when his relationship with the fans currently goes far beyond fractured.

To me, It came across as somewhat unprofessional, particularly when those viewing and some in attendance wanted reassuring as opposed to further doubt cast over a whole host of issues including the potential new stadium, retaining EFL status, fragile finances, questionable recruitment… the list goes on. Perhaps an idea for future meetings would be an invitation to other members of the board? I’m sure the supporters would be interested to hear from them – Just a thought, anyway.

In fairness, Ron made an apology towards the end of the meeting for his sharpness and those subjects mentioned were covered to some extent, albeit tentatively. Fans, as ever, will make up their minds, with the social media response offering a wide range of views varying from passion to pain as to his sincerity. Regardless of the outcome, Southend United’s position both on and off the field remains precarious. I guess time will tell although I’m not too sure how much of that precious commodity Southend has, particularly in the latter category – I ask you, how are you feeling about it? Do you genuinely see light at the end of this murky tunnel? Once again, social media has provided a largely negative response on that front. One can only imagine how 6,000 in attendance on a matchday would be reacting to the current situation.

As I mentioned, Carlisle United visit Roots Hall Stadium on Saturday – there is no room for error – only three points will do. I don’t need to tell you that.

Jon Mellish and Lewis Alessandra provide the Cumbrians goal threat with eighteen between them – confidence no doubt restored by Tuesday’s triumph. That bravery we so often hear about from the manager – but let’s be honest, don’t often witness – needs to be evident in spades.

“We’ve just wiggled off the ropes a bit, but the fight is still very much on,” Molesley explained after Harrogate. Regardless, this remains the weakest Southend United side I’ve seen in almost five decades, but they have an opportunity, along with Mark Molesley and Ron Martin, to ratify my considerable doubts as unfounded. Certainly, I’d be delighted to be proved wrong on all counts.

We all know that the fare has been insipid for the best part of three years. Blues, you have eight games So please, please, please, let me, let me, let me, let me, get what I want this time – because too many of us are fed up with being happy in the haze of a drunken hour but heaven knows we’re miserable now!

Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-0 Carlisle United

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]