Southend's Nightmare Before Christmas... | TBV Bulletin December 2019

posted 1 Jan 2020, 02:28 by Dan McEvoy   [ updated 1 Jan 2020, 02:29 ]

Following on from the success of last season's bulletins, a member of TBV will be continuing to publish their thoughts and comments from previous games, and previewing games ahead of us. These bulletin's are to be published once a month, and the day/date these bulletins are posted will vary from month to month. As always, please be aware that this bulletin may contain some controversial views, and are the views of those involved with TBV, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the club. 

A Southend Christmas Story...

Tis the season to be jolly... and whilst performances have somewhat been more positive over December, there's still not been a whole lot to be jolly about. I was hoping to open this bulletin with some positivity and a little play on words for popular Christmas film "Miracle on 34th Street", but unfortunately the two fixtures closest to Christmas weren't as kind to us, and annoyingly, these two games were our biggest chances in this half of the season to get 3 points, and on both occasions, we could've done just this. But before we speak about Bolton and MK Dons, let's start at the beginning of December, and Burton away...

Burton Albion (A)
For me, Burton was another huge opportunity to get 3 points... and it was all going swimmingly well for a long time, with Southend leading 1-0 and up against 10 men following O'Toole's sending off. However, the game was very much a tale of 2 different halves, and the difference in the two halves was staggering, and when Burton got their equaliser, heads dropped, and the game turned on its head, with Burton getting a few really threatening chances. We held out for the draw and a precious point, but whilst there were positives, you'd be foolish if you didn't feel a little gutted that we didn't fight back and claw all 3 points. Unfortunately, a huge down point goes to the unfortunate injury to Nathan Ralph, who dislocated his shoulder near the end of the game, which is a real shame as I thought he was superb for the most part of the game. We hope that he recovers from this injury as soon as possible, as he was just beginning to find some good form.

Bristol Rovers (A)
It was seemingly a month for playing all the "B" teams in the league away from home, with a tough test at Bristol Rovers up next. Coming into the game off the back of a positive display at Burton, I think a good few fans were feeling optimistic about the game ahead, but I don't think anyone expected us to be going into half time 2-0 up! But, much like Burton, it was a game of 2 very different halves, and the 2nd half got off to a horrific start, conceding a penalty in the first 5-10 mins of the half kicking off. For me, the moment we conceded the penalty, and it was converted, heads dropped, and it allowed Rovers to get back into the game in a big way. The equaliser quickly followed, closely followed by a cracking strike for Bristol Rovers to take the lead. It took going 3-2 down to get some form of motivation together to try and claw something back in the game. The 4th goal went in, and many fans had unfortunately gave up by this point, and for those in attendance, they were astounded, and speechless at just what had just happened. As fans, we knew this was going to be a tough fixture, as Bristol Rovers are no pushovers, but the difference in both halves was absolutely staggering, and quite frankly, worrying.

Rotherham (H)
Rotherham - After 2 games on the road, it was back to Roots Hall for the final home game before Christmas, and we faced another tough challenge in Rotherham. It was a game where we saw the return of Harry Lennon (we'll get to that in a bit), and whilst we started relatively positively, on the half hour mark a bit of a scuffle in our own penalty box led to an unfortunate own goal by Rob Kiernan, putting Rotherham ahead. However, as opposed to the two games before it, the team kept their heads up, kept fighting, and we ended the half going in only 1-0 down. The 2nd half began a lot brighter, with Southend winning a penalty within the first 4 mins of the half kicking off - amazingly, it was our first penalty of the season. Demetriou was the man tasked with taking the penalty, and he confidently converted the penalty and bringing us level. Just a few short minutes later, a well timed through ball from Bwomono reached an on-running Mantom, who slotted the ball into the bottom right hand side of the goal, giving us the lead for the first time at home in the league since our game vs Doncaster in October. Unfortunately, that lead only lasted 8 minutes, as some poor defending and goalkeeping led to a goal from none other than ex Shrimper, Freddy Ladapo, bringing Rotherham level on the 60th minute mark. Despite our best efforts, we weren't able to find a winner, but at the end of the day, a draw was a very good result for us, against a very tough Rotherham side. There were more positives than negatives, and I think fans were strangely optimistic for our hopes against Bolton the next weekend.......

Bolton (A)
Ahh, Bolton. The only team that is in this situation with us right now, and the only reason why Southend aren't ending the decade at the bottom of the League One table. The game got off to a flyer, as Lennon rose highest from a corner to nod home a superb Mantom corner, to give us the lead just 10 minutes into the game. But elation turned to devastation just a few minutes later, as Lennon went down injured, with what was later confirmed to be a broken leg, being replaced by the returning John White. From this point onwards, it seemed that the game turned on its head, and on the 36th minute, Bolton drew level, and just 10 minutes later, following a bit of controversy with the referee waving away his officials' flag and some poor defending from Southend, Bolton took the lead, just before the half time whistle. The 2nd half kicked off, and Southend were really pushing for an equaliser for the opening 15 mins. However, on the 64th minute, disaster struck, as what can only be described as a moment of incredibly careless play led to Bolton's Daryl Murphy running straight through on goal, to convert the easiest chance I think anyone will ever get... at least, this is what I assumed happened, as after the slip, I sunk below my seat, to the ground, and couldn't bare to watch what happened next. We continued to try and claw our way back into the game again, with Dieng converting a header from a McLaughlin free kick, but unfortunately, it wasn't enough. The result was tough to take for most fans, few fans inconsolable at the full time whistle... me personally, I found it very difficult to vocalise how I felt about the result. The only words I could find to summarise what I watched was "we are the victims of our own demise" - the 3 goals we conceded, especially the 3rd goal, was incredibly avoidable. What we were hoping was going to become our Christmas Miracle, turned out to be our Nightmare before Christmas. 

MK (H)
Christmas has been and gone, and now we move onto Boxing Day, and our only opportunity to pick up a "six pointer" this season, with MK being the only team we have defeated this season before the game (1-0 away win back in September). Things got off to a tough start, with MK taking the lead within 15 mins, but Southend quickly earned their way back into the game, with Southend being awarded a penalty on the half hour mark. Once again, Demetriou was the man tasked with the job of converting from 12 yards, and a cooly slotted penalty brought us deservedly level. Going into half time, we were looking much improved from our previous game against Bolton, but defensively there were still some huge worries from us. These worries continued into the 2nd half, and just after the half hour mark we found ourselves in trouble again, with some ropey defending leading to a forced attempted off the line clearance by Bwomono. Whether the ball crossed the line or not was a debate in the stands for most home fans, but the assistant referee gave it as a goal, and we were behind once again. Thankfully, MK's lead lasted mere minutes, as a great cross in from Mantom reached the head of Rob Kiernan, who headed home emphatically to bring us level once again. From this point in the game onwards, it was really Southend's game to lose - we weren't short of chances, however our lack of clinical finishing in and around the box affected us, meaning we ended up at full time with just a draw for our efforts.

Final Thoughts
In summary, December has actually been probably our best performing month of the season so far; 2 losses in 5 games (Bristol Rovers and Bolton) which, when you look at it, is a pretty depressing statistic, and tells the story of our season so far. As we mentioned earlier on in, we saw the somewhat controversial return of Harry Lennon, following his 5 week spell training with the U23's following controversy following the Dover game. Before the game, he released an apology on the official site to the fans, however, as expected, his reception for his first game back was predictably toxic. For me, I felt angry when I heard the news that he was back in contention again, but when I took a step back and looked at it again, I thought it may have been a stroke of genius from Sol. Knowing that the fans were still annoyed at him, I think Sol may have used that to motivate Lennon to show them what he can do, and the result of that was one of the best performances I've seen from him in a Southend shirt. He was a noticeable difference against Rotherham, and after he went off injured vs Bolton, the game did seem to change. I wouldn't say he has fully won the fans over yet, but I would say he has made a good start at doing just that. Unfortunately, the injury he suffered at Bolton will likely mean that he will miss the rest of the season, which is a real shame for him.

Looking towards the January transfer window, I think it is fairly safe to say that most of our signings in the transfer window will be made up of loan deals, with maybe a couple of permanent deals thrown in there for good measure. I think we are in need of 2 CB's, a LB (potentially on loan), a winger and a CM, at the very least. Sol has got a huge task on his hands this January getting new faces in the door, and hopefully by the time we are typing the next bulletin, we will know how successful Sol was with doing just that. Also, as we approach the end of the year, we also prepare to enter a brand new decade. It's been an event filled decade, and our January bulletin will be dedicated to going through some of our favourite moments from the past decade. With this in mind, we are asking all Southend fans to tweet us their favourite moments of the past decade, for inclusion in our first bulletin for 2020. Please tweet @OfficialTBV with your suggestions for favourite moments of the past decade, and we will talk about them in the next bulletin. 

Hopefully we will have some more positive stories to write about in 2020, but for now, we prepare ourselves for a tough fixture on New Years Day away against Wimbledon. Hopefully 2020 will hold better fortunes for Southend, and on behalf of everyone involved with The Blue Voice, from those on the drum, to those who turn up religiously week in and week out to vocally back the team even through their toughest times, we want to wish all Southend United fans a very happy and successful 2020.

Up The Blues!

The Blue Voice