The sun is shining, the temperature seems to be about right, the birds are tweeting in the non-social media sense, and even the resident fox having a major strop at 3am had a reassuring feel to it.
We must have won last night.
To be honest, Shrimp 0 Saveloy 1 might have been the bigger result of our previous two wins. With Luton, there was the post Franchise angst that motivated us, along with the occasion perhaps getting to the Hatters.
Last night though, if we’d come a cropper you wouldn’t have been entirely a) surprised, or b) upset. Southend aren’t a bad side, so much so that last night they conceded their first league goal.
For us though, there’s something that we have already adopted, which – hopefully – isn’t just down to the early season flourish.
NA made exactly that point in his post match interview, although it’s telling he made mention of how shit we have been against lower placed sides. But it’s fair to say that we dug in big time last night.
Some very good saves from Shea, the woodwork, and a bit of
desperate highly skilled clearances helped get us three points. Francomb’s free kick (which I don’t think deflected) helped, of course 😉
Oddly, we could have had a second, and it’s clear that Azeez isn’t quite at the level (yet?) of Tubbs and AA. Speaking of those two, a bit of a quiet night for them, although we looked less potent up front when they both went off.
But then, we can close out games when they leave the field, which is another pleasing thing to know.
What struck me was how much more of a unit we looked. It’s a shame that Barrett is merely on loan, as Benno looks like he’s got a lease of life again. Presume the Y&B Club will be finding more money down their sofas right now to land him.
This was my first competitive fixture of the campaign (would have been my second, but fuck you Franchise), and it’s carried on from something I noticed in pre-season – the players seem to like each other.
OK, they probably don’t, being professional footballers, but they already look like a team in the way we never were last time out. They responded well to crashing out of the C1C, and last night just continued that.
Apparently, Southend fans reckoned we were like Burton last season – as in, not the best but know how to win games. And the Brewers reached the playoff final in May…
Can we keep this up? I hope so. Will we keep this up? Probably not, and it will be interesting to see what happens when we start losing games. Although providing you don’t go on scoring droughts and keep playing well you go a long way in this division.
This may not happen for too much longer, but by god it’s enjoyable when it does.
Plus points: Three points. A clean sheet. Great rearguard action. Francomb’s free kick. First 20 minutes. Feeling of being a resilient outfit for once.
Minus points: Defending too much. Azeez needs work.
The referee’s a…: Not the best, to be honest. Missed a blatant corner for us, although it was funny to see him try and force AA to get a move on when he was being subbed. Even so, not quite sure it warranted six minutes of injury time.
Them: I know they always gub us at KM, but they must really hate us coming to Roots Hall. Since NA has been here, it’s been three wins from three for us.
If they had a Tubbs or AA last night, they probably would have the post-match glow this morning. However, they didn’t and we do. That said, we did let them onto us a bit too much.
For the stat fans, they haven’t won at home on a Tuesday in something like three years, and for once we weren’t the patsies to help them end that record.
I’m sure that NA copied Phil Brown in the open-necked shirt approach. As for the man who proved at Hull that you shouldn’t do karaoke over the PA, the last time he got that animated was when his local tanning salon double booked him.
Their somewhat obese fan in that group near the away fans seemed to not like the gentle ribbing we were giving him. Can’t think why. And as a wise man said once, if you bang your drum then you bang your mum…
Bit of a line trying to get in just before the game, especially as you have to queue up to buy the ticket before going in. So much so that a steward had to take cash himself at the turnstile – I hope he was dishing out tickets as well.
Their PA decided to play Hey Jude as the teams came out for the second half. Perhaps they didn’t anticipate our fans still singing our own version of it five minutes after the restart?
Oh, and their toilets weren’t blocked this year.
Point to ponder: Whither Ross Worner? After a shaky start, Shea has stepped into the goalkeeper role as quickly as any shotstopper in the AFCW era, and you can sense the confidence in him from the defence growing.
He’s as young as Seb was, but he already has a presence that our Eastlands hero never had. So where does this leave Worner? From his point of view, he’s going to find himself on the bench a lot right now, and he must be wondering if NA’s warnings about him are coming true.
Shea can make a blunder, or get injured, and Worner has to take that chance again. But we’re keeping clean sheets, and it just proves how quickly players can get ousted.
Look at Sully junior, who is now apparently at Whitehawk after quitting football.
Could Worner be our very own Petr Cech? And no, I don’t mean he needs to be kicked in the head and look like Wordy from Look and Read…
Truth is stranger than fiction: 1) You get some interesting characters on the tube at 2330. To sum up – female Chelski fan. Glow in the dark fox tail (synthetic). Drugs. Latitude festival. Burger King literally in the middle of nowhere. In Suffolk. Gillingham. I miss away games. 2) Speaking of late night, you can tell the sort of area you’re in by how late the kebab shop puts a new elephant leg on to cook. In Morden, it’s 2355 on a Tuesday. 3) Passing Billericay to/from the ground. Just think, it’s not so many years ago it was an evening fixture for us in Turdeyland.
Anything else? So many idle little thoughts, shame I can only remember some of them enough to type.
It was telling, perhaps, that the last player to leave the field was Kennedy. That’s somebody who could have easily found himself on the scrapheap in the summer, but has had a new lease of life just by sheer chance.
He didn’t do too badly at all, and it was only injury that made us release him last season to begin with. I guess he knows he’s got this second opportunity and is more than willing to take it with both hands.
Which leads me onto the impact subs we have. We know Arthur is still injured, but KSL came on and gave Southend something to think about for a bit. Thing is, shouldn’t we be seeing more from the guy we got from Cardiff by now?
KSL in particular seems to promise a lot but deliver little. He has cameos here and there, but even looking at him last night you still expect him to start JPT and Senior Cup games but not much else.
When he signed in NA’s first transfer window, we all agreed that he needed time to become a first team regular. True, injuries haven’t helped, but he hasn’t done it thus far, and this season may go from “he hasn’t stepped up yet” to simply “he hasn’t stepped up”.
Arthur is a different kettle of fish, and he seems to know that being an impact sub isn’t bad when you’ve got a deal to begin with. Even so, like KSL – will he be anything more than that?
You wouldn’t drop Bulman and Rigg right now, that’s a sure thing, and the problem with impact subs is that they get pigeonholed. Especially if the youngsters start knocking on the proverbial door, start coming off the bench themselves and they too make a difference.
Fortunes change in football so quickly. Ask Ross Worner. Or indeed, Callum Kennedy. For now, KSL and Arthur are very useful players to have, but they could be in danger of getting left behind…
Of course, it’s a squad game, and with the fifth game in a fortnight coming up on Saturday, I can understand why NA is pissed off with the amount of fixtures he’s had to prepare for.
It’s in that link above, but in case you can’t be arsed to read it again, he said this:
“It’s been a really tough 10 days for the boys. The schedule for the start of the season is ridiculous. People who have not played the game don’t understand the intensity that these players have to work at and we just have to get on with it.”
Although somebody tell our boss that if it wasn’t for midweekers your editor would get to even less games than he does? 😉 Mind you, I did refer to him as Boy Blunder and Neal Cowardley last campaign, so that played on his mind when he asked for less midweekers.
Actually, we’ve done well. Only one loss so far, albeit the worst possible one, and Hartlepool won’t be a better time and venue to finally stop fucking about against struggling teams.
It might prove a help here, as we’ve got momentum when the games are coming thick and fast. Already, teams like Oxford, Newport and t’Stanley have to start finding points and quick, otherwise they start finding they’ve got three or four games to catch up on.
I didn’t mention Hartlepool, because as we all know, they’ll get three points on Saturday…
So, was it worth it? No. It was shit.
In a nutshell: Can’t get used to this end of the table…