It was a 2-1 win over Yeovil Town in Essex back in January which kick-started an amazing run of form for Southend United.
Relegated out of the Football League last May, the Shrimpers had been expected to compete having brought in some experienced professionals in the summer.
Unfortunately, they were being managed by Phil Brown, a man with a far from impressive managerial record, and during the first half of the season they managed just four National League wins with 11 defeats.
The dismissal of Brown at the start of October saw former player Kevin Maher brought in as part of a management team which includes former Barnet manager Darren Currie and despite not making an immediate impact, they built up a head of steam by the time Yeovil came to town.
Since that night they have won seven, drawn four and lost three in the league and rocketed from the relegation zone to a comfortable 12th, one place ahead of Yeovil going in to the weekend.
Maher was busy on the final day of National League clubs being able to register players on Thursday.
He brought in centre half Joe Gubbins on loan from Championship QPR and Dagenham & Redbridge defender Kenny Clark, both of whom will spend the rest of the season on loan in Esssex.
The pair could be in line for a start at Huish Park with ex-Glover Nathan Ralph, who has been playing in the middle of defence, out for six weeks with a thigh injury and Polish defende Kacper Łopata having been recalled by Sheffield United.
Maher said: “With the players we’ve lost it meant we wanted to add a couple in that area. We want to keep pushing and finish the season strongly by winning as many games as we can so I’m pleased we’ve been able to sign two and I’m grateful to the club for allowing us to do that.”
If there’s a positive to be had from Southend’s form it is that they have lost twice in their last three with a 3-0 home defeat to Dagenham and a 2-1 loss at Maidenehead on Tuesday night sandwiching a 2-0 win over Altrincham.
FROM THE GOALKEEPER
Southend goalkeeper Steve Arnold believes his team-mates should not be too downhearted by the midweek defeat at Maidenhead United.
Speaking to the Southend Echo, he said: “If you had offered us where we are now when the manager came in we would’ve done anything for that.
“We do need a sense of perspective but at the same time we don’t want to take our foot off the gas so to speak.
“We’ll take it one game at a time but we’ve got to keep positive.”
Of the trip to Somerset this weekend, the former Forest Green Rovers shot-stopper said: “It’s a game we’re looking to go and win like we do every week. They’re another team in the way of what we want to do as well so we’ll go there looking for three points.”
The transfer deadline day arrivals of QPR youngster Joe Gubbins and experienced Dagenham centre half Kenny Clark give Southend options at the back.
They recently lost Kacper Lopata who was recalled by Sheffield United and ex-Glovers’ defender Nathan Ralph through injury, the Shrimpers moved to bolster their back line.
Both will be in with a chance of starting at Huish Park, however, there will be no place for experienced midfielder James Dunne, sent off in the 2-1 defeat at Maidenehead United on Tuesday night.
Also missing will be former Yeovil striker Rhys Murphy and fellow frontman Simeon Akinola who both have knee injuries and midfielder Abu Ogogo who has a heart issue.
Striker Harry Cardwell returned to training this week having been missing for the past month with a hamstring problem, and could be in contention.
FOOT IN BOTH CAMPS
The obvious link between these two sides is Rhys Murphy, who topped the scoring charts in the green-and-white of Yeovil Town for the past two seasons and is doing the same at Southend United.
Sadly, as mentioned above, there’s no change of the bagsman coming back to haunt his old employers having suffered yet another major injury, ironically in the Glovers’ 2-1 defeat at Roots’ Hall earlier this year.
You do have to wonder what kind of a career he could have had if it weren’t for such a bad injury record.
Another familiar face out of the reckoning is defender Nathan Ralph, who was part of the Yeovil side which was promoted to the Championship in 2013.
He has been impressing as a left-sided central defender – he’s not that tall, but he can’t half jump – for the Shrimpers this season but, see Team News, he’s out for the next six weeks with a thigh injury.
Other players with a foot in both camps include:
- Jordan Green – Yeovil Town (2017-19), Southend United (2020 – loan)
- Brandon Goodship – Yeovil Town (2016 – loan, 2016), Southend United (2019-21)
- Jakub Sokolik – Southend United (2014 – loan, 2016), Yeovil Town (2014-16)
- Craig Calver – Southend United (2009-10), Yeovil Town (2010-11)
- Scott Spencer – Yeovil Town (2008 – loan), Southend United (2010-11)
- Wayne Gray – Southend United (2004-06), Yeovil Town (2006-07)
- Matt Harrold – Southend United (2001-02, 2006-08), Yeovil Town (2005-06)
- Barrington Belgrave – Yeovil Town (2000-01), Southend United (2001-2003)
- Gareth Risbridger – Yeovil Town (1998-2001), Southend United (2001-02)
- Ben Smith – Yeovil Town (1998-2001), Southend United (2001-02)
- David Webb – Southend United – manager (1986-87, 1988-82, 2000-01, 2010), Yeovil Town (2000)
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