Depending on how full or empty your glass is, City travel to Southend this weekend either on a three-match unbeaten run or without a win in five, having drawn three straight matches. The swap with Bristol Rovers of Gow for Richards caught many off-guard, and Richards will hope his substitute appearance in the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth will have impressed Paul Tisdale enough to gain him a starting berth in Essex. Matt Oakley has still not seen any game time since his return from injury so will expect to remain on the bench, while it will be a straight fight between Tom Nichols and John O’Flynn for the gig up front.
The appointment of the colourful (orange, mainly) Phil Brown as manager took many by surprise given his recent travails in Israel and Azerbaijan, but Brown has defied the critics to lead Southend into a solid playoff position. His squad has had the benefit of some warm weather training in Portugal (belying their regular winding up orders!) although with the weather forecast continuing to provide dire warnings ahead it could all be moot if the Roots Hall pitch is under water. The Shrimpers are, however, without a win in their last four games in all competitions dating back to a 3-0 thrashing of high-flying Chesterfield. Kevan Hurst has provided the bulk of the firepower with 11 goals in all competitions, while City supporters know all too well that Barry Corr packs a punch. Another player with City connections, former loanee Lee Barnard, has recently rejoined Southend on loan, while City won’t come up against the combative Conor Clifford, who was sent off in last week’s 2-1 defeat at Mansfield.
Southend is the answer to that old quiz question “Who have been City’s most frequent opponents in the Football League?” – Saturday’s match will be the 116th time the sides have met. Southend are ahead with 42 wins to City’s 39 (34 draws). The reverse fixture saw Southend claim a comfortable 2-0 win with first half goals from Woodrow and Hurst, and last season’s meeting at Roots Hall also saw the Shrimpers emerge victorious, goals from Corr and Eastwood sealing a comeback 2-1 win after Bennett had given City the lead.
Exeweb’s guide to travel, pubs and the ground: http://www.exeweb.com/2012/07/14/the-things-you-need-to-know-roots-hall/
Southend United visited Portugal this week to get away from the rain. http://www.exeweb.com/2014/02/09/southend-head-to-portugal-ahead-of-visit-by-the-grecians/