Bradford City 3-0 Southend United
I think it’s fair to say that the devoted supporters of Southend United Football Club are pretty cheesed off with life at the moment.
Unable to attend matches and looking on – perhaps from the sanctuary of behind the sofa – Blues fans are witnessing a demise on the pitch worse than at any time in the clubs 114-year-history.
Sure, there have been tough times before, both on and off the greenery. But for the time being, let’s focus on the former.
Blues were relegated to the bottom division of the EFL following the curtailment of the last campaign. A change of management followed but the mediocrity has again swiftly descended as the latest incumbent, Mark Molesley, fashioned a squad lacking experience and quality in a division which is notoriously ruthless.
The latest setback, by three unanswered goals against a Bradford City side on the back of three straight defeats, was Southend’s ninth in eleven outings. They have gleaned just two points from thirty-three on offer and prop up the entire Football League having already conceded twenty-five goals.
More and more of the Roots Hall faithful are becoming critical of Chairman Ron Martin as well as quizzing whether former Weymouth boss, Molesley and his squad are simply out of their depth? A quarter of the way through yet another ‘annus horribilis’ of a campaign, the evidence is stacking and whatever side of the fence you sit, can’t possibly deny that the supporter’s loyalty – which has been considerable, particularly in recent years – deserves far better.
Back to Valley Parade. Five minutes in and Blues were breached. Callum Cooke crisply finding the bottom corner following sterling work from Elliot Watt.
Blues rallied – their spirit is undeniable – but opportunities passed and Watt made them pay, profiting from the toil of Clayton Donaldson and beating Mark Oxley with a low drive. Again, all too easy.
It was to get worse. Harry Pritchard firmly heading a third before the interval – radio’s close to the south-east Essex coast were re-tuned, while The Great British Bake-off became more palatable for those suffering in front of their screens.
In fairness, Blues were a little more resilient after the break. Timothy Dieng twice going close against his former employers. But significantly, the damage had already been done.
Molesley bit the bullet. Although some fans question his ability to turn this situation around, his honesty is commendable: “First-half, we shot ourselves in the foot again,” he bemoaned.
“They scored goals at key times and gave us a bit of a mountain to climb.
“A few choice words at half-time and you do worry for the second-half when confidence is low. The fight and spirit shown in that second-half showed that they never give in, they came out fighting and created a lot of chances.
“Ultimately, the game of football is about putting your chances away; they put theirs away and we didn’t take ours.
“You take full responsibility of it. It’s my team out there now and I’ve been here long enough. We prepare them, we work them during the week so, ultimately, it’s on my head. That’s why I was pleased with the reaction; I wasn’t pleased with the result at all.”
It’s a safe bet that a large percentage of Blues followers are already resigned to relegation for the second successive season. Of course, there is still time and the miracle of that final day escape against Sunderland back in May 2019 is still fresh in many minds. But for anything resembling that dramatic outcome to resurface, in the meantime, a swing of gargantuan proportions is required to lift the proverbial boxer off the canvas.
Southend United now turn their attention to the Emirates FA Cup first-round, where they face Vanarama National League outfit, Boreham Wood, at Meadow Park on Saturday, November 7 (3pm).
Bradford City: Richard O’Donnell (Capt), Bryce Hosannah, Paudie O’Connor, Anthony O’Connor, Harry Pritchard, Callum Cooke, Clayton Donaldson (Dylan Mottley-Henry, 77’), Billy Clarke, Elliot Watt (Finn Cousin-Dawson, 90’), Reece Staunton, Connor Wood Subs not used: Sam Hornby, Jackson Longridge, Austin Samuels, Tyler French, Kian Scales
Southend United: Mark Oxley, Elvis Bwomono, Shaun Hobson, Harry Lennon, Timothee Dieng, Tom Clifford, Jason Demetriou (Capt), James Olayinka, Ashley Nathaniel-George (Matt Rush, 84’), Brandon Goodship (Terrell Egbri, 84’), Emile Acquah (Kaziah Sterling, 90’) Subs not used: Harry Seaden, Harry Phillips
Referee: Marc Edwards
Assistants: Stephen Wade and Alistair Nelson
Fourth Official: David Richardson
(Quotes courtesy of Southend United Football Club)