Parky's record isn't looking too hot so far with three defeats out of four starts but we've certainly produced plenty of scoring opportunities in those matches. Now if only we could find someone to stick a few of them in the net... I think Kimpioka has got to be given a start as whatever's up with Grigg, he doesn't seem capable of converting even the easiest of chances at the moment. It's up to the manager to psych him up and get him scoring again but we need a few goals in the meantime or we'll be too far behind the top two to make up the gap. Southend have much bigger problems than us and apart from wallowing second off bottom, have conceded an average of almost three goals a game so far. However, I seem to remember they were in a similar position when they beat us at the end of last season and they also have a new manager, which may well give them a boost (ha, ha). I don't know if Wyke will return but I certainly hope so and with the crowd behind us, I think we'll win today so my match prediction is 3-1.
When I got the team news, Grigg was starting and McNulty was on the bench. Well, I hoped our fans would give him some support as booing wouldn't make him any better and if he managed to get an early goal, he could turn the corner. Maguire was starting too and I looked forward to him and McGeady causing some havoc. I tuned into SAFSEE and after the Last Post and a minute's silence, broken only by the sound of seagulls dancing about on the roof of the commentary position, we were underway with our fans in good voice.
We won a free-kick a couple of minutes in and Maguire's kick floated Ralph right in the face and his legs turned to jelly and down he went. There was a stoppage of a few minutes while the medics assessed him before he eventually came back on. Southend were playing five at the back and no doubt they were big lads so I hoped we wouldn't pump many high balls in. We won the first corner of the afternoon but it went over everyone's head and out for a throw. Alarm bells rang after ten minutes when in their first attack Southend were able to break down the wing and get a good cross in. The idea of them snatching a lead and then packing their defence didn't bear thinking about. Hume made a good run but when he passed to McLaughlin, his cross/shot went nowhere in particular. Maguire did something similar shortly afterwards. In the twentieth minute we got our act together when a quality ball from Hume was met by the diving O'Nien and again he scored with a header, leaving Bishop in goal no chance. Commentator Gary Bennett is always complaining about our final passes, rightly so, and he sounded very pleased that he'd finally seen a good one. I too was pleased to hear that the first name of Southend defender Bwomono was Elvis. Both McGeady and Grigg had shots on target that were blocked while Southend hadn't threatened much at all but like everyone else I was waiting for a second goal before I could relax a bit. Our fans were making very little noise as we passed the half-hour mark so we all needed something to cheer about. Southend started creating some pressure and they were putting a few long throws into our box that I didn't like the sound of. With about five minutes to the break we were lucky that Goodship miscued the ball when he looked likely to get the equalizer. Not surprisingly there were three minutes of stoppage-time but it remained 1-0 at the break and there was just muted applause as the whistle went. So far, so good but Southend had indicated that they might nick one so we needed a second asap.
Referee Trevor Kettle came in for some booing when he was slow to blow his whistle after O'Nien was splattered but happily the latter recovered quickly. Next thing Grigg had a header that went just over the bar and then the commentary, as it is wont to do, cut out for a short while. When I got it back on Hume was again causing trouble and won a corner, only our second of the game. We were sounding no nearer to getting that vital second goal while Southend seemed to be growing in confidence so I was glad to hear Watmore coming on for Maguire in the sixty-second minute. The crowd were still quiet and no doubt they were getting anxious like me that Southend might pull one back. Watmore warmed our cockles with a swift run and then a shot that landed on the roof of the net. We were certainly creating chances but as usual the final shot wasn't good enough. With just under fifteen minutes to go McNulty came on for Grigg while Southend made a double switch and clearly reckoned they were in with a chance of a draw. Connor McLaughlin got his fifth yellow of the season so he'll be suspended. It was getting nervy as the minutes ticked away and we brought on Leadbitter (for McGeady), who seemed to have put in a lot of good passes on Tuesday night and we could do with a few of them. There were four unwelcome minutes of stoppage-time but we held out and it ended 1-0.
An uncomfortable win but three points all the same and another clean sheet.