Maher can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Southend United v Woking – Vanarama National League – Roots Hall Stadium – Report

Southend United 0-2 Woking

The challenge facing Southend United boss, Kevin Maher and his coaching staff was never more evident than during his sides’ dismal Vanarama National League performance against an otherwise average but ultimately efficient Woking outfit at Roots Hall Stadium.

Despite an Emirates FA Cup defeat at Chesterfield last time out, Blues went into the game hoping to record back-to-back league victories for the first time in eleven months. But once again, Blues were off the pace and unable to compete physically.

It proved to be a scrappy and far from perfect opening to the contest with Southend finding themselves behind shortly after the twenty-minute mark. Tahvon Campbell drove left-footed into the bottom corner after Jamar Loza had fashioned an opening – It was the wingers’ tenth goal of the campaign.

Blues’ appeared a little lost and were struggling to find any rhythm. Tyreke Johnson’s effort hit the bar as Woking – firmly in control at this stage – looked to turn the screw further. The home crowd, frustrated and concerned at their charges lifeless showing.

Rhys Murphy’s awkward attempt was expertly fielded by Craig Ross – the Woking stopper largely a spectator during the opening 45 minutes.

Maher replaced the ineffective Jack Bridge with Nathan Ralph ahead of the restart. Meanwhile, Sam Dalby’s effort was blocked as Southend looked to launch a viable response.

But despite looking a little more organised than during the early weeks of the campaign, Southend’s limited quality and lack of urgency were again uncomfortably highlighted. Murphy somehow lifted high over the top from close range as a rare opportunity came, and subsequently went much to the anguish of the majority in the stands

Campbell was a whisker away from doubling his and Woking’s tally after finding some room from ten yards, while Dalby saw his header hacked clear as the sides exchanged opportunities.

Sheffield United loanee, Zak Brunt – in the Blues starting line-up after his red card at Chesterfield was rescinded – was off target after doggedly battling his way goalwards, while Dalby nodded the wrong side of an upright – Southend now displaying a little more intent, but ultimately lacking any sort of spark.

But with time running out, Woking was handed the chance to seal the points. Referee, Ryan Atkin hadn’t endeared himself to the Southend support throughout the match. The whistler pointed to the spot following an alleged handling offence – Max Kretzschmar emphatically hammering home the resulting spot-kick.

This was Southend’s tenth defeat of the season. Clearly, Maher can not be expected to perform miracles with a group of players that simply are not up to the task. Whether the Blues hierarchy can provide him with tools of a more capable standard remains to be seen.

Southend United return to Vanarama National League action on Friday, November 19 when they face Grimsby Town at Blundell Park (7:45pm).

Southend United: Steve Arnold, Shaun Hobson, Jack Bridge (Nathan Ralph 46′), James Dunne, Rhys Muphy, Sam Dalby, Harry Phillips (Louis Walsh 75′), Kacper Lopata, Jason Demetriou (Matt Rush 87′), Zak Brunt, John White (Capt) Subs not used: Abu Ogogo, Nathan Ferguson

Booked: James Dunne (foul), John White (dissent)
Goals: None

Woking: Craig Ross, Kyran Lofthouse, Josh Casey (Capt), Tom Champion, Moussa Diarra, Jamar Loza (Inih Effiong 72′), Solomon Nwabuokei, Max Kretzschmar, Tyreke Johnson (Kane Thompson-Sommers 90′), Tahvon Campbell, Rohan Ince Subs not used: Nathan Collier, Tarryn Allarakhia, Jordan Maguire-Drew

Booked: Craig Ross (time-wasting)
Goals: Tahvon Campbell 21′, Max Kretzschmar (penalty) 88′

Referee: Ryan Atkin
Assistants: Hugh Gilroy and George Byrne
Fourth Official: Kirsty Dowie

Attendance: 5,821 (308 from Woking)

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]