Southend head into Sunday’s game at home to Bury knowing it is now or never for them to secure their place in the end of season play-offs.
The Blues know they must better Millwall’s result to make the top six, with Rochdale waiting in the wings should both Southend and the Millwall slip up for a third successive weekend.
Following Port Vale’s win in midweek, Bury aren’t yet guaranteed safety, so they go into the game knowing that they need a point to confirm their League One status for next season.
It’s the second successive season that these two sides have met on the final day, with Bury winning last season’s finale 3-2, although they were later deducted the points for fielding an ineligible player.
Southend United: LLWLLW
One To Watch
Not much argument over who Bury’s dangerman is on Sunday, and that’s their prolific striker James Vaughan.
The former Everton youngster is streaks ahead of everyone in Bury’s scoring charts, scoring 24 goals this season for the Shakers, including two last weekend in their 3-0 win against Northampton Town.
Vaughan joined the club in the summer from Huddersfield Town and has been responsible for almost 40% of the total number of league goals Bury have scored this season.
The 28-year-old still holds the record for the youngest player ever to score in the Premier League at 16 years and 271 days and beat Wayne Rooney to become Everton’s youngest top flight goal scorer.
Last Three Encounters
12th November 2016: Bury (Vaughan) 1 vs 4 (Ranger 2, Cox, McLaughlin) Southend United
8th May 2016: Bury (Barrett OG, Lowe 2) 3 vs 2 (Moussa, Mooney) Southend United
18th December 2015: Southend United (Hunt 2, Mooney, Payne) 4 vs 1 (Clarke) Bury
Phil Brown will be without midfielder Anthony Wordsworth after he picked up a hamstring injury last weekend against Shrewsbury.
Long-term absentees, Ryan Inniss, Mark Oxley and Ted Smith remain out, whilst Christian Walton has extended his emergency loan from Brighton for another week.
Brown is also hopeful of recalling full-back Ben Coker after Coker himself said he was “pretty confident” of making a return after missing Southend’s last five games.
Lee Clark will be without Craig Jones, Andrew Tutte, Zeli Ismail and Danny Mayor who are all out with long-term injuries.
Nathan Cameron is back available again after he made his long-awaited return from a knee injury against Northampton, which was his first appearance since August.
Phil Brown, Southend United Manager;
“This year we knocked at the door of the play-offs and are still knocking. We’ve got to make sure we kick that door wide open and the only way we can do that is by winning the game.
“The players are focussed, I’m focussed and I think the supporters are focussed. We know what we’ve got to do.
“We need one more committed, nerveless battle on Sunday and if we come through it then we can walk around the pitch after in a good frame of mind because I firmly believe that we’ll do it.”
Lee Clark, Bury Manager;
“Our plan was always to go to Southend and win the game, we want to win every game.
“We understand we need to be resolute defensively and put in a similar performance to those that earned us a point at Millwall and Bolton.
“There will, of course, be pressure on Southend too on Sunday but I’d love to swap with Phil Brown and be in his position to be challenging for the play-offs, no danger.”
The Blues Box Office will be open from 10am on Saturday and 9am on Sunday to purchase tickets in person from the Blues Box Office or by calling 08444 770077.
Tickets can also be bought online
Ticket collections on the day will be from the North East ticket office and the West Stand ticket office from 9.30am.
Phone lines in the ticket office will remain open until an hour before kick-off (11am) on Sunday.