I don’t know why but I’ve never believed that Southend F.C. really exist. I never thought Aldershot existed either. Anyway, I’ll be proved wrong this afternoon when we entertain them in what seems like our first home game for months. Of course we’ve been doing very well away and I can’t remember when we last won three away games in a row. Oviedo will no doubt come back into consideration today but maybe we shouldn’t change a winning team. I’d make an exception for Maja, though, and hopefully he’s recovered from his injury. We’re sitting very pretty in the league and a win today could propel us into an automatic promotion spot. Both the sides above us, Portsmouth and Peterborough, have tricky away games at Accrington and Burton respectively so we have a great chance to go higher. Match prediction: 2-0 to us.
When I got the team-news at 2.15, we were unchanged and Maja was back but on the bench, as was Oviedo. I didn’t recognize any of the Southend players apart from Coker, whose name rang a vague bell. I tuned into the match commentary on SAFSEE in a confident mood. Within two minutes a looping Sinclair header was clawed away by Oxley in goal and then there was little of note till ten minutes later when a Catts shot went a yard or two wide. Coker went down injured in a mysterious manner and after a lengthy stoppage was taken off on a stretcher and subbed by Hendrie. He was given a loud ovation by both sets of fans. Standing around for five minutes on such a cold day wasn’t going to be good for all concerned. It all sounded flat to me and our fans weren’t making much noise but within a minute we were one up when a Honeyman flicked-headed from a Gooch pass floated slowly into the net with Oxley stranded. Around the thirty-fifth minute Southend made their first serious threat when McLaughlin produced yet another quality save and then McGeouch had to clear Cox’s follow-up off the line. Commentator Gary Bennett said we were looking vulnerable down our left with James having the ball passed over him several times. The first yellow card of the game wasn’t dished out till the fortieth minute which was in marked contrast to Tuesday’s tussle at Doncaster. Bunn was the recipient for a foul on Gooch. As expected, there were five minutes of stoppage-time and we needed to keep focused as we nearly conceded twice late in the first-half against Doncaster. We managed to hold out and it remained 1-0 at the break. Peterborough were leading 1-0 and Portsmouth drawing 0-0.
We were unchanged as usual as we started the second-half but after ten minutes we were obliged to bring on McGeady for the injured McGeouch. Just before that could happen Maguire had lashed in a great shot into the top corner from twenty-five yards or more, seemingly an even better effort than his goal of the month against Burton. It hasn’t taken him long to become a real fans’ favourite. Shortly afterwards we substituted Maja for Sinclair and how good that felt. I reckoned we’d get another goal before long. McLaughlin again showed his worth with a great save from Mantom and what a contrast he’s been to some of the other recent goalies we’ve had to endure. It looked like Catts was about to receive his customary yellow for a rash late tackle but the ref let him off with a stern talking-to. In the sixty-fifth minute Gooch flung himself at the ball but his header went narrowly over. We didn’t win our first corner till about twenty minutes to go but we soon got another. Gooch was injured and was replaced by O’Nien but he trotted off so hopefully it wasn’t too serious. We were coasting towards another victory but it would be nice to keep another clean sheet too. With ten minutes to go McGeady lashed in our third to put the icing on the cake and immediately afterwards the attendance of over 30,000 was announced. Our fans were in fine voice and indeed why not? It ended 3-0 to much applause.
This was no classic but it was a great result and with Portsmouth getting a draw we’ve gained ground on them and we’ve still got that game in hand.