As I Seen It - Southend (a)

ALAN ESSEX sees Pools in Essex

Southend 1 Pools 1 League 2, Tuesday 18th February 2014

For as long as I can remember Southend United have been planning to move away from their Roots Hall ‘roots’. A ground which they have occupied since 1955. The latest proposal is a new stadium at ‘Fossets Farm’ not far away, adjacent to their training ground.

The plan is to have a hotel, conference facilities and other commercial activities on the site as well. The current location is planned to have a Sainsbury’s store and apartments. In situations like this I’ve always wondered why Sainsbury’s don’t use the new area and Southend stay put. I guess there are ‘sensitive’ commercial reasons and as Southend are, as is common at this level, struggling financially they probably have little option. They have faced a succession of ‘winding up’ orders over the years, the last one being July last year. At the last minute funds always appear.

Having said all that, they are still at Roots Hall and although the ground is a little on the old fashioned style I quite like it – probably because of this.

I set off in the afternoon to pick up David and was given a slap up tea of ‘Cheesy Peas’ omelette and very nice it was too. We then drove to Billericay, 16 miles from Southend. A place popularised by the singer Ian Dury in the song ‘Billericay Dickie’ to pick up his nephew Adam, a keen football player and follower. He gave us the lowdown on Southend and how they would play a 4-3-3 system. He informed us that Southend were particularly strong down the left with Coker and Straker as danger men and Corr as the main strike force.

The game started with rain onto an already saturated pitch, the goal areas soon resembled the Somme or some of the wetter Glastonbury rock festivals and the wings also soon cut up. Despite this both teams were trying to play good football in worsening conditions. Both defences had to be on top form, Collins and Burgess were both having good games and I was impressed by both full backs, Holden and Richards who it could be argued were only playing due to injuries to Duckworth and Austin. Walton was also having a good game assisting with defence and trying to set up attacks.

Corr as predicted by Adam was a threat when Southend attacked and one headed effort from close range hit the underside of the bar and fortunately rebounded into the hands of Flinders. Holden was doing well both defensively and when he could setting up attacks one being to set up Walker whose shot was saved by their keeper Bentley. Southend must have a thing about having keepers named after luxury, prestige cars as a previous incumbent was named Royce. So if there are any budding keepers out there named Mercedes S. Class you know where to apply!

Southend were having the greater attacking opportunities but our defence looked safe until a few minutes before half time. Burgess could not stop the man he was marking who was able to put a short pass in to Corr who side footed into the corner of the net just beyond Flinders' dive and Monkhouse’s attempt to block.

In the second half Southend nearly got a second just after the restart but Pools overcame this and began to look very sharp, Ronaldo especially seemed more mobile and up for it. However sensing that Pools needed to attack, Southend pushed forward and Burgess had to clear off the line with Flinders well beaten.
"the final score was a fair reflection of the game which was an excellent spectacle for this level, especially considering the conditions"
After a quarter of an hour of the second half Holden broke down the left but his cross was not the best, the Southend defender miscued his clearance which fell to Ronaldo just outside the penalty area; he volleyed this as only Ronaldo can and the shot flew into the top right corner of the net. Now many of you will have seen this goal on the various media outlets, it was truly spectacular, a definite contender for goal of many a season.

Pools were now confident enough to press forward and James had a great effort equally well saved by Bentley. Other half chances fell to Pools but there was some last ditch defending at the other end with Pools players blocking shots and physically putting their bodies on the line, and Holden cleareing off the line with Flinders again beaten.

About 20 minutes from time Freddy Eastwood replaced the effective but tiring Straker for Southend. This was Eastwood’s 200th appearance for them and I think it merits a serious mention that as a member of the travelling community he has been the victim of abuse, but I’m glad to report there was none from the Pools supporters.

I thought the final score was a fair reflection of the game which was an excellent spectacle for this level, especially considering the conditions.

Marks – as I’ve said before, totally subjective: Flinders - 6, Richards - 7, Collins - 7, Burgess - 8, Holden - 8, Walton - 7, Cristiano Ronaldo - 7, Williams - 6, Monkhouse - 7, Harewood - 7, James - 7.

A final note especially for the Ditchburn Poolie. The referee as I’d been informed was Keith Hill – he was true to his statistics which averaged 3.25 bookings per game, he booked 3 players and to be honest had a good game, largely down to the fact that both teams played with a good attitude and minimal fouls.

A final final note – Southend had a page in the match programme entitled ‘Four to Watch’. The first was Scott Flinders and a brief description of his career – the picture accompanying the piece was definitely not Scott Flinders.

I was home by 12:30 (a.m. Wednesday) after a 200 mile (to the mile) round trip to watch a ‘local’ match. Still it was a good match and great banter.