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Newport County v Southend United – Sky Bet League Two – Rodney Parade – Saturday 3pm – Preview
Unbeaten run over – Returned to the bottom of Sky Bet League Two – Back to the proverbial drawing board – Yes, I think it’s fair to say that Tuesday’s trip to the Breyer Group Stadium was a huge reality check for everyone associated with Southend United Football Club.
Despite the notable recent improvement this was a poor performance from Southend and highlighted the urgent need for some quality to be injected into Mark Molesley’s squad when the transfer window opens next week.
The recent run – as welcome as it was – coincided with fellow strugglers picking up results as well. This was always going to be the case. You can’t expect everyone else to sit back and watch while you attempt to clamber away from trouble.
But Southend’s situation has largely been brought about by this very reason. Supporters will point an accusing finger at whoever – the chairman – the manager, the players, the bus driver? The simple fact remains that you can’t give the rest of the league a quarter of a season-start without running into serious implications.
The Blues remain in huge trouble. They’d still have been in serious trouble had the result gone their way at Leyton Orient. And unless they can quickly cobble together some results they will find themselves cast adrift again pretty soon. Harsh? Yes! But that is the reality of it!
And that in itself offers the team and manager further issues. Blues head to top of the table Newport County at the turn of the year – the Welshmen themselves struggling for consistency of late and without a win in four.
But sitting four points adrift and still likely to need a further thirty points to avoid relinquishing their 100-year membership of the Football League, every game is now a cup final for Southend.
I’m sure there are Blues supporters who will scoff at this theory, off the back of what they have seen over the last month or so. I hope they are right. I hope the club can scramble clear of the relegation zone and build for a brighter and altogether more secure future.
It was encouraging and has given the team a fighting chance, but as it stands, that is all. Southend hasn’t got the luxury of free-hits. Every game must be targeted for three points. Nothing less will do.
On current form over the last six matches, Southend is in sixth place in League Two. But it should be noted that fellow strugglers Mansfield are eleventh, Stevenage twelfth, Barrow fourteenth, while Grimsby Town are on the brink of a takeover which could well secure their future.
Relying on others is not an option. Let’s be perfectly honest it never really should have been from the start. I said before the two derbies, that both Colchester and Orient possess better players and that if they ‘turned up’ they would take the points. Colchester didn’t, Orient did. The manager will know that as will the players.
Together, in embryo, they have demonstrated there is fight and spirit in the camp. But having been brought back down to earth in E10, the group remain notably short.
Molesley is learning fast and might well go on to manager at a far higher level in the future. However, his first transfer window at Southend is likely to be the most important one he will face throughout his career. Both he and those responsible for backing him will be judged accordingly by a fanbase which remains largely, and rightly, concerned.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Newport County 2-0 Southend United