Torquay United v Southend United…
After slumping to consecutive defeats against FC Halifax Town and Aldershot Town, Southend United make the long trip to Devon on Saturday, an away fixture against Torquay United next in store for Phil Brown’s men.
It has been a tough start to life in the fifth tier for Blues, having not tasted victory since the curtain-raiser against King’s Lynn Town.
But, with Gary Johnson’s Torquay also suffering a slow start, Blues can make the long journey eager to condemn the Gulls to further misery, in hope of reviving optimism within their own camp which has dwindled with recent results.
Saturday’s clash will be the first time that the two sides have met since doing battle in League Two in 2014. Southend triumphed 1-0 at Roots Hall thanks to a Freddy Eastwood goal. Current Blues players John White and Will Atkinson both played the full 90 minutes in the narrow victory.
The Gulls have resided below Football League level since their relegation from League Two in the 2013/14 campaign.
Since, Torquay suffered a relegation into the National League South in 2018, to which they recovered and bounced straight back to the fifth tier the year after.
Largely to thank for said promotion is current boss Johnson, who has just entered his third year at the club.
He nearly led his side to a Football League return last season, after an exceptionally fast start to the campaign, they fell just short of Sutton United in the race for automatic promotion, before losing on penalties to Hartlepool United in the play-off final.
Tuesday night’s defeat to Aldershot means that the Blues make the trip to Torquay having accumulated five points from a possible 18 so far this season.
Brown’s side picked up draws against Wealdstone and Wrexham it between losses against Stockport County and Halifax after beating King’s Lynn on the opening day.
Their most recent loss against the Shots extended the winless run to five matches, despite summer signing Rhys Murphy having scored three goals in his last three outings.
Saturday’s opposition have suffered an even slower start to the 21/22 campaign. They have fallen to four defeats from their first six matches, winning only against Maidenhead United in a 4-3 thriller and earning a single draw against Notts County.
Torquay currently sit 20th in the early National League standings.
From Craig Fagan:
"We’re at Southend United, a big club at this level, we have to stand up to that now,” said Fagan.
"It’s always important to win games of football, they aren’t on a great run themselves so it’s a good opportunity for us to play them.
"I’m glad that there’s a game coming, as players you want to put things right straight away. If we were coming into this weekend without a game for two weeks, I’m not sure that’s the best way to approach the next game, so we’re all looking forward to putting some things right.
"It’s easy to talk about the Wrexham game as a good performance even though we drew the game, but in times of bad results you need to have that resilience in yourself to go again, to make good decisions, to run around with desire and determination and to be brave.
"The away support is unbelievable, we’re thankful for that because it does make a difference, we have to use it more to our advantage and I’m sure they’ll be behind us on Saturday as well."
Blues’ Team News:
Abu Ogogo returned to full training on Thursday and he will be pushing for a return to the squad when Blues head to Plainmoor. The midfielder was forced off against Stockport with a hamstring issue.
Matthew Dennis pulled out of the matchday squad in the warm-up against Halifax on Saturday, he is touch and go for the weekend’s fixture, assistant boss Craig Fagan admitting they ‘need to make the right decision’ as to whether he should feature.
The 19-year-old also returned to training on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Steve Arnold came through Tuesday’s match unscathed as he returned after suffering a dislocated finger.
Scott Jackson will be referee for Saturday’s match, assisted by Michael Begley and Justin Amey, with Callum Waller as fourth official.
This weekend’s fixture will be Jackson’s sixth as referee so far this season.
So far in the 21/22 campaign, he has issued 20 yellow cards, whilst brandishing one red, coming in Yeovil Town’s 3-0 victory away at Stockport last Saturday.
He has yet to referee a game involving the Shrimpers.
Elsewhere in the National League:
Bromley v Barnet
FC Halifax v Stockport County
Grimsby Town v Eastleigh
Notts County v Maidenhead United
Solihull Moors v Boreham Wood
Torquay United v Southend United
Wealdstone v Aldershot Town
Wrexham v Dagenham and Redbridge
Yeovil Town v Chesterfield
Weymouth v Dover Athletic
How to Follow:
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Blues fans not heading to Plainmoor on Saturday will still be able to follow all the live action by subscribing to Blues TV where you’ll get live match commentary from the BBC Essex team from all first-team matches this season.
Blues TV costs £4.49 per month or a one-off cost of £45 for the season, with your subscription not only giving you match commentary, but also exclusive access to extended match highlights, full pre-match press conferences, interviews, features and more.
You can also follow live minute-by-minute updates on social media via the Club’s official Twitter account by following @SUFCRootsHall on Twitter, which will ensure you get all the latest news and more throughout the 2021/22 season.