The Thursday Preview: Crewe Vs Southend
He’s at it again, that Paul Sturrock. Having struggled for success since his days at Swindon, Luggy’s Southend lead the League 2 table and the only surprise is that so many people seem to have failed to see it coming.
Coming up to 18 months in charge of Blues, Sturrock has gone about his work in a canny fashion. Building up a squad from the bottom-up after the club had endured a relegation year of winding-up orders and transfer embargoes, the Shrimpers now sit atop a competitive division and the outlook is good; with a menacing set of strikers to choose from and what looks like a solid back-line in place, Southend have been added to the list of title-favourites, knocking Crawley to one side in the process.
A turning point appears to have been the disappointing 2-0 defeat at Sturrock’s former club, Swindon, where a then resurgent Robins side silenced their critics with their second win in an unforeseen three-game spike. That’s not to say that Southend were going nowhere leading up to their date in Wiltshire but, from there, they’ve won five from as many, a 4-0 wiggle at Rotherham the stand-up-and-take-note moment.
Confidence has since surged; the Shrimpers knocking three past both Shrewsbury and Dagenham in League and Trophy games respectively. Playing against Graham Turner’s Salopians last Friday, the players left the pitch to a “We are top of the league!” chorus from a Happy Hour-fuelled crowd; those supporters who’ve either been with or against Sturrock will know that his teams don’t relinquish such positions without a fight.
None of star performers Bilel Mohsni, Anthony Grant or Ryan Hall started that evening, but it’s worth noting that two of the Shrimpers’ three strikes didn’t come about until the latter two’s introduction. Underlining their importance to the side, it may well be that Southend’s promotion hopes rest of their shoulders.
Sturrock will be frustrated, then, by the news that Grant, whose eight goals last year seem to have come from nowhere if one looks across his career stats, could miss out after picking up a foot injury at Daggers on Tuesday. A silver lining, however, is the form of Hall, scorer of a brace in the same game, and Shrimpers of all faiths will hope that his recent brush with the law continues to provide a rocket upon which to launch his obvious talents skywards. Having been rescued by Sturrock from the obscurity of Bromley, it would be a shame to let off-field nonsense obstruct what looks set to be a promising career in professional football.
Travelling north-westwards to Crewe on Saturday, Southend should be confident of earning a point. It’s been win, draw, lose, win, etc. for the Railwaysiders to date, although form has been steered in the right direction after a poor start. It’s largely as you were for Crewe, whose teenage effervescence will always be under threat of boiling over into naivety. Last season’s 2-0 and 1-0 wins over Sturrock’s Shrimpers will give heart leading into this one, though, and with Byron Moore and Shaun Miller both in the goals of late, I can see this one ending all square.
Featured Image Ingy The Wingy