Back down the same old road

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Paul Ketchley

9 March 2022

Southend United 1 Grimsby Town 0

Eventually, after Covid, things had to get back to something approaching normal, and so here we are.

Southend on a Tuesday night, 24 years and a day after Daryl Clare cupped his ears in front of the away end. In the meantime blocks of modern flats with those bijou balconies have sprung up around Roots Hall. The ground is a property developer's dream in Britain's newest city. Just sell the ground and buy a football team why don't you?

Town turned up in red with a few subs, some of whom seemed to be there to make up numbers and around 300 supporters. Macca jogged back and forwards across the penalty area like one of the lost boys from Peter Pan whilst Crocombe got down to business in a practice goal. The others warmed up with energy and purpose. They lined up much as expected with Crocombe, Efete, Pearon, Waterfall and Crookes at the back; Jones, Sousa, Coke and Clifton in the middle and then McAtee behind Abrahams up front.

First half

We kicked off, the ball went left, and we won a corner. The keeper gathered.

You're probably thinking, stop all this blah blah and get on with the action but, in truth, this was all the interesting stuff in the first half. Town were on top in the first half hour but didn't create any real chances. Southend passed the ball round the back and tried these long diagonal punts which got dealt with. Clifton was everywhere, Abrahams worked hard, McAtee wanted the ball.

The most dangerous moments came when Town gave the ball away unnecessarily and invited Southend to try to score. Twice Crocombe was called on to save from defensive lapses.

So, it was poor all round. If you want some consolation, we weren't very good but they were worse. It was even, even worse that it was in the previous National League campaigns, and we're still doing that routine where the ball gets cleared out left for Andy Monkhouse to knock inside except that Monkhouse isn't there.

It was pretty obvious that neither side had a hope of scoring from open play.

Second half

Town came out first in the second half and you would have hoped that things would step up a gear and for five minutes it did.

It was their turn to kick off and they wellied the ball straight out of play. That's what I mean about them being worse than us, because at least we can kick off competently.

So Clifton was out of the traps from the start and McAtee had a decent go which went wide. For 15 minutes Town looked like a decent football team and Sousa delivered a great cross but nobody could get on the end of it.

Then the predictable happened when Efete lost the ball half way up the pitch and they got away down the left. Efete huffed and puffed back to get into position and the inevitable happened that a penalty was given away at the far end. It was always on the cards that the only way anyone would score would be from a penno or a dead ball situation and, to be fair, Dalby took it well, sending Crocombe the wrong way.

Southend were so dominant that they took to time wasting for the rest of the match. How long can it take to get up when you've collected the ball and how long can you spin out a goalkick for. Let's face it, you have to serve the ball in tennis in 30 seconds but the Southend keeper could give a lesson in how to extract every moment. You couldn't blame him because he knew they couldn't get a second.

The game was crying out for some changes but Town persevered with the existing formula which just underlined that if you always do what you've always done you'll continue to get what you've always got. Everyone looked to McAtee to provide the magic touch, but he can't do everything.

Eventually Hurst brought on Burgess and Dieseruvwe for Sousa and Coke who, shall we say, had had a limited impact on the game. For the last 10 minutes and the added time, Town came forward looking for an equaliser and didn't do badly with Dieseruvwe looking particularly useful. Coming forward gave Southend more openings and they did manage to hit the bar. Towards the end Efete was upended and Callum Jones showed how to deliver a dead ball, but nobody could convert what was no more than a half chance.