Remember when…

Solihull Moors v Southend United – Vanarama National League – The ARMCO Arena – Tuesday (7:45 pm) – Preview

Despite extending our unbeaten Vanarama National League sequence to ten matches, there was still unhealthy rumbling from the stands following an uninspiring performance and fourth draw in five, this time when Woking visited Roots Hall Stadium.

Sifting back through the highlights (no, really!) proved to be a tough task. Nevertheless, I think those of a critical nature need to cut Kevin Maher and the squad a bit of slack.

As I’ve mentioned before, we are still in no position to go out and splash the cash. Those recruited by Maher following the lifting of the transfer embargo were not tried and tested at this level but offered potential, which again I reiterate, might, or might not be fulfilled.

As well as these guys finding their way, it should not be underestimated the drain this campaign has put on those players already at the club. Though we appear to be turning the corner, both on and off the pitch, neither Maher nor the consortium has a magic wand. Collectively, they have been left with such a vast cleaning-up operation that simply steadying the ship should be seen as something of a success right now.

Nevertheless, the goalless encounter with Woking was honestly assessed by Maher: “We have standards that we keep to, and we didn’t hit them today, especially with the ball. It was scrappy and there was no flow to us. Both teams get out with a point and move on,” he explained.

“We know the performance as a whole wasn’t good enough, but we’ve got a point and a clean sheet, and the run keeps going. We have to be better on the ball and there were basic errors. We just wanted someone to get hold of it and open the game up, but it wasn’t to be. Sometimes you’ve just got to take a point.

“The players need to know that there’s no given and you’ve got to perform otherwise you won’t play.”

Although there is still a hurdle or two to overcome this season, with Southend seemingly wallowing in the security of mid-table, no doubt Maher, John Still and co will already have turned their attention to shaping a squad capable of challenging for promotion next term. In the meantime, it is important to embrace what we have, because we were close to having nothing at all.

Meanwhile, the lead-up to a busy Easter weekend starts with a midweek trip to Solihull Moors for a fixture re-arranged at short notice.

Cap doffed to the supporters heading to the West Midlands. No doubt, some half-days have been booked and perhaps one or two ‘doctor appointments’ arranged. Indeed, Solihull boss Andy Whing labelled his side fixture schedule ridiculous, with player welfare a huge concern. 

However, this is further proof that the National League are no better than their Premier League counterparts where looking after players and supporters is concerned. It’s another black mark in their general direction from me. No doubt, they don’t care either way.

But the game gives Maher’s men an opportunity to stretch their unbeaten run a little bit further. Solihull are amongst the play-off contenders and will no doubt provide a tough test. But with plenty on their plate right now, including an FA Trophy semi-final with Bromley, finding the energy for another fight might be a bit too much to ask.

Jeevesie’s prediction: Solihull Moors 1-1 Southend United


Brian Jeeves