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Southend United v Salford City – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 3pm
“It’s Eastwood this time… Oooohhhh, what a goal!
Yep, it’s true. Nothing stays the same in football for too long, and these last seven days have been no exception.
Southend’s ten-day hiatus from the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone was concluded by surprise victories for both Grimsby and Barrow.
Now I’m fully aware that under no circumstances should you become reliant upon the results of others, but having climbed out of the bottom two for the first time in what seemed like a lifetime, it was somewhat psychologically soul-destroying to see everything unravel in the space of ninety-minutes at Blundell and Boundary Park.
Late that evening, I played Freddy Eastwood’s winning goal against Manchester United over and over. Bizarrely, it’s not my favourite Southend United moment. As I watched, the adrenaline began to pump. Again and again, I asked myself how the club – which had climbed to its own footballing summit that famous night in November 2006 – had been allowed to fall so spectacularly since. Sure, Blues have had their moments. But one promotion and three relegations suggest the momentum was never really seized. I’m afraid Southend United’s history suggests it has always been a hand-to-mouth existence. It has always been a case of enjoying it why it lasts.
Anyway, enough of reminiscing, it only depresses you in the long run. Back on the bottom of the league and facing a daunting task against a Forest Green Rovers side set to take over at the top should they take they three points.
Now as I’ve said before, I think I’m always honest with my assessment and analysis of the Blues. I thought I had every right to be critical after last weekends toothless defeat against Bolton, just as it is rightly correct that I offer Mark Molesley and his team congratulations on what followed at the New Lawn.
Blues played on the front foot, with a little style and panache. Oh, and those goals – simply fantastic!
As if Shaun Hobson’s volley wasn’t sumptuous enough, Nathan Ferguson – who had clearly spent the previous evening, similarly to me, watching re-runs of Freddy’s thunderbolt against United – scored a goal worthy of winning any football match along with the Grand National, Boat Race and Wimbledon!
Having taken a big physiological punch, Blues had landed one of their own just 24 hours later. How that must have hurt Barrow and Grimsby. It also invited free-falling Colchester to the party and probably left the Stevenage a little frustrated that they’ve not quite been able to shake the bottom three off.
Molesley was understandably thrilled, as were the Blues support, who once again took to social media, this time to offer glowing praise and congratulation.
But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (sorry to crash the party). Southend still has a considerable amount to do. Relegation to the National League is still far more than a possibility. And even if Blues miraculously avoid the drop, the self-congratulations and scoffing, similar to which followed that last-day victory over Sunderland in May 2019, must not be allowed to paper over the considerable cracks throughout the football club.
Potential, which Southend both as a town and a football club has in spades, can only be achieved if it is recognised and correctly enhanced by those at the helm.
Wednesday’s win at Forest Green was a stepping stone, nothing more, nothing less. More and more of the long-suffering supporters are questioning what direction the club is going in and with their return to the stands seemingly imminent, the club will do well to remember that when asking them to part with their hard-earned money for season cards, whatever division Southend might find themselves in?
Anyway, that was an emotional rant, wasn’t it? Forest Green is now in the past – attention turns to Salford City.
Two defeats and a draw suggests a little wobble from the promotion-chasing North-West outfit. Their nerve questioned most recently by a tough, physical Morecambe side, who saw them off by the odd goal in three thanks to two goals deep into stoppage-time.
Now that’s gotta hurt and Southend must take advantage of any fragile thoughts the Ammies might now possess. Performances and results against Newport, Cambridge and Forest Green have proved to everyone, including me, that anything is possible from Southend, just as knocking Manchester United out of the League Cup did almost fifteen years ago.
But once they cross the white line, it’s not up to me or you. It’s down to them. The chairman, the manager and most of all, the players. More than ever before, they will be judged over what happens in the next sixteen matches and with what follows. It’s important to remember it is down to them to impress the supporters, not the other way around!
Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-1 Salford City