Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United – Buildbase FA Trophy Fourth Round – Chigwell Construction Stadium – Saturday (3pm) – Preview
Get in there! Blues 2-1 Yeovil Town…
I don’t want to speak too soon, but we are now only seventeen points off the play-offs – Up the Shrimpers!
Well, it doesn’t hurt to dream. Back in the day, I had this English teacher – Mrs Bowker – She once exclaimed that boys like me shouldn’t have dreams and aspirations. My adolescent ambition was to drive railway engines, like my dad, during the week ahead of turning out for the Shrimpers on a Saturday afternoon. It’s didn’t quite work out that way, although I did get a thanks, but no thanks response from Hibernian (yep, random) after writing to the Edinburgh club for a trial.
Anyway, the gist of it is that collectively, we Southend United enthusiasts have had very little to be optimistic about. Tuesday nights display against the Glovers provided everything we are entitled to as fans – honesty, effort, work rate, a group of players prepared to do the dirty jobs. Seeingly, a newfound pride in pulling on the shirt. Of course, the three points was a huge bonus, pulling us seven points clear of the relegation zone. But first things first, those commodities, which have been all too rare in recent season, were evident in abundance and I, for one, welcome their overdue return. Long may it continue.
The football itself was altogether more expansive. The full-backs got forward, chipping in with the two goals. The ball was switched from either side of the pitch, stretching the game and making Yeovil chase. Sure, we looked a bit leggy towards the end but that came about simply because these boys had put in a shift.
It was difficult to pick out one particular performance. However, there were some key moments. That powerful run from Matt Dennis, leading to the second goal. The Norwich loanee has become an important focal point in the side. Blues must do what they can to keep hold of him beyond the end of the season.
An uncharacteristic error from Steve Arnold led to Yeovil’s late consolation goal. However, we don’t talk enough about saves these days. Arnie’s breathtaking one-handed stop to rebuff the Glovers leading marksman, Joe Quigley was right up there amongst the best I’ve seen. I also noticed the Blues stopper celebrating the goal with the fans. Evidence that 1-11 (or whatever that is in squad numbers), Southend are coming together as a unit both on and off the pitch.
Now before you think I’ve gone all soft, let me make it quite clear, I realise the club as a whole is on remarkably thin ice and just like the majority of supporters, I want to see change. But focusing on the football, tentative, but easily noticeable steps have been made. Southend are far from the finished article, but they have started to move in the right direction.
What’s next? Dagenham & Redbridge… again!
I’m not exactly sure what Maher thought after witnessing his new charges slip to a 3-0 defeat at the Chigwell Construction Stadium back in October, but I might have a good idea. Anyway, almost four months on, the Blues chief has an opportunity to see how far his group have come against one of the more efficient teams in the division.
Whether Maher or for that matter his opposite number, Daryl McMahon choose to use Saturday’s FA Trophy fourth round tie for experimental purposes, remains to be seen. Personally, and despite my earlier tongue in cheek humour, promotion this season isn’t going to happen, so why not have a go at the trophy, build some more momentum and give the fans something to be excited about?
The Daggers will provide a tough test. Their attacking players, particularly Angelo Balanta and Josh Walker excite me, while former Blues winger, Myles Weston has enjoyed a new lease of life with the East Londoners, His creativity is pivotal in their push for the play-offs.
But I think we can afford to be a little more optimistic just now, and there was a time recently where I didn’t think I’d be able to say that.
Anyway, enough for now, this letter won’t write itself. I’ve noticed that Hibs have won three on the bounce, but hey, St Johnstone and Dundee look like they could do with a bit of help. Sure, I’m 53 and my second touch is usually a tackle, but I could still do a job. Dear Sir…
Jeevesie’s prediction: Dagenham & Redbridge 1-1 Southend United (Southend United to win on penalties)