Our Blue Dot…

Rochdale v Southend United – Vanarama National League – Crown Oil Arena – Saturday (3pm) – Preview 

Well, whatever’s coming we are getting closer to it. A bright new beginning or, well, let’s try not to think about it…

Firstly, may I congratulate the Southend United manager, Kevin Maher, for reaching a significant milestone. Working under a transfer embargo for a whole year!

Southend United boss, Kein Maher (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Of course, there’s another significant milestone. Maher takes charge of his one-hundredth game when Southend head to the Crown Oil Arena to face Rochdale this weekend. On top of 454 appearances as a player for the club, a large percentage as captain, I’m pretty certain that the Blues boss has already passed for legendary status. 

“It’s come pretty quick, I didn’t realise until the other day, but at the same time, it’s been quite long as well! I’m proud of it, because as your first job, it’s always a difficult one to get to that milestone,” Maher explained.

“I’m grateful to everyone around the place, the staff, players and fans, for their support and hopefully there’s many more to come.

“There have been a lot of highlights and a lot of good moments when you look at the crowds that we’ve got and what we take away.”

No doubt, Maher and his staff have raised their collective stock. One continues to wonder what could be achieved if they were operating under normal circumstances. Although it has been so long, neither he nor we can truly remember what normal circumstances are!

Maher’s ninety-ninth match in the hot seat saw Southend earn a point at Aldershot Town, lifting us off the bottom of the table at teh expense of Kidderminster Harriers. Congratulations to Harry Cardwell on his seventh goal of the season, cancelling out Lorent Tolaj’s impressive strike for the hosts on the cusp of half-time.

Harry Cardwell has scored seven times for Southend United this season (Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

“The quality of the football we played was outstanding. We’ve come here with 14 players, JD’s played his fourth game in ten days and he’s still overlapping at the end there, which is unbelievable,” Maher enthused in his post-match press conference.

“The energy and fitness right across the team was outstanding but we’re papering over cracks with fourteen players.”

He says the desire to go and get three points speaks volumes about the squad, but knows we need to be more clinical.

“We always try to win. Plenty of teams in this league would take a point away from home but we wanted to go and win the game. We felt like we were one good decision or one cross from getting on the end of it.

“There are goals there for a forward if they step up to the plate. Cards is doing that and we’ve got a chance for someone else to make that place their own, whether it’s Powelly, Woody or Moons.”

Although it was good to see the Blues yet again lifting themselves after a disappointing result at the weekend, the focus remains on next Wednesday’s High Court appearance, despite strong rumours that a deal over the sale of the club is close to completion. 

I know it is easy to get carried away what with everything we have been through. But I, for one, will be approaching this with caution. 

Firstly, as it stands and until some sort of concrete statement is released, these remain as rumours. 

Secondly, we still know very little about Justin Rees and absolutely nothing about his consortium. Some supporters are concerned that the Martin family will remain connected to the club. Surely, there is a realisation within that this will not be tolerated by the fans and will only cause further divide and protests. 

As I said, while these remain rumours, people will continue to speculate. Meanwhile, the recent unsavoury goings-on at Scunthorpe United and closer to home at East Thurrock United have left some fans concerned that the club are about to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Time will tell. But whatever way you look at it, we are faced with very little choice. Either a deal is done or the club is done. That is the harsh reality of it. We can only hope that Mr Rees’ intentions for the football club are sound. 

In the meantime, and for those supporters unable to travel to Rochdale, I understand another protest is being staged at Benfleet Road on Saturday lunchtime. As they say, if nothing changes, it’ll stay exactly the same!

Anyway, Southend make the long trip to the North West at the weekend to face a Rochdale side relegated from the EFL after just over a century of membership (sounds familiar).

Dale has made a steady start to life in the fifth division and currently occupies eighth place in the Vanarama National League table with five victories from their twelve matches to date.

Their recent four-match unbeaten sequence was brought to a conclusion by Chesterfield on Tuesday evening. No doubt, they will be keen to get back to winning ways in front of their supporters on Saturday.

But for those of us of a Southend persuasion, the anguish, anxiety and anger continues. Please, Mr Rees. Make it stop!

Jeevesie’s prediction: Rochdale 1-1 Southend United

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk