Just Around the Corner…

Brian Jeeves

Barnet v Southend United – Vanarama National League – The Hive – Tuesday (7:45pm) – Preview

Three victories on the bounce – Seven without defeat – Into the play-off places…

I know it’s far too soon to congratulate Kevin Maher, his staff and the players, and that celebrating being seventh in the Vanarama National League might raise one or two eyebrows. But to have achieved what they have in otherwise dire circumstances has been little short of miraculous.

I remain sceptical as to whether Maher and co will be able to achieve our collective ultimate aim of a return to the EFL. Outside interference is always likely to upset the applecart and every person can only take so much. But for now, let’s focus on this moment. I doubt there were too many Blues fans, me included, who thought we would see this kind of turnaround following that catastrophic afternoon against Chesterfield at Roots Hall Stadium just over a year ago.

At this point, I must make a couple of apologies. At times, I’ve been quite critical of goalkeeper, Collin Andeng Ndi and central defender, Shaun Hobson, believing that the level is too much for them and identifying the pair as weak links in the Blues side.

Well, credit where it’s due. Andeng Ndi has now established himself as a more than competent stopper. His shutout at York City last weekend was his eighth of the season, helping Southend achieve was is currently teh best defensive record in the division.

The same can be said of Hobson, who has played a predominant role in the Blues’ solid backline with a series of eye-catching performances.

I don’t criticise Southend United players lightly. I want to see every one of them doing well for the club, after all, I’m a supporter. The manager and his coaching staff can only do so much. From that point, it is all down to the player. Temperament and the ability to learn and improve are under constant scrutiny. Collin and Shaun are not the finished articles, but they have made significant strides and that deserves recognition. Well done, lads. You certainly showed me. More of the same, please.

Strangely, while I’m congratulating our duo on their contributions, Maher suggested the Blues hadn’t been at their best during the 2-0 victory at York: “It’s probably the worst we’ve played in the run we’ve been on, in terms of on the ball and looking after it, but some games are going to be like that,” he explained.

Winning football matches builds momentum. Getting a positive result when you’ve not found top gear is a useful trait. Of course, you need ability but sometimes it is the character within the team and the individuals that get you through.

Nevertheless, Blues will require all of their positive commodities when they face Barnet at The Hive on Tuesday evening.

I think it is fair to say that you never quite know what you’re going to get from the North Londoners. Thrashed 5-0 at York. Involved in an incredible twelve-goal thriller at Wrexham. Currently unbeaten in three. Not a team to be taken lightly.

But Southend must make this, and every other game about themselves: “The confidence should be high and the lads are in a good place,” Maher added.

“We know we’ll need a big effort. Barnet played on Friday so they’ve had a bit of extra time.

“Barnet have been decent, they’ve got a lot of good attacking players that can score goals so we’ll need to be on our game defensively.

“The players drive the standards themselves so I’ve got no concerns about complacency or anything.”

But for me, the biggest compliment I can pay this team, these performances, are that they have been honest. We all know that at some point Southend United will lose a game of football. But for now, I don’t expect that eventuality to be at Barnet on Tuesday evening.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Barnet 0-2 Southend United

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk