Blues went into the final six games of the 2018/19 season at the start of April with a new manager.
Kevin Bond was appointed temporary boss in the week leading up to the long journey north to Lancashire and a clash with Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town.
There was a marked improvement in the side’s performance, however a late penalty decision against Blues allowed the Cod Army to come away with a point in a 2-2 draw after Luke Hyam’s first goal for the club had looked like earning Bond three points in his first game.
Next up was a home game against fellow strugglers Wycombe Wanderers in Bond’s first taste in the Roots Hall dugout, however a disappointing outing allowed the Chairboys to win 2-0 with Adebayo Akinfenwa scoring both goals. Blues were in the relegation zone, two points from safety with four games to go and, ultimately, deep in trouble.
The Easter Weekend began with a Good Friday trip to Walsall in a crucial encounter, Blues one point and one place above their hosts. What ensued was some remarkable game as Blues somehow came away with just one point. Simon Cox’s first half strike looked like it would be giving Bond’s side a massive three points, but once again a late penalty call was to prevent that; a decision which must still wrangle with Blues supporters. Aramide Oteh scored from the spot and Walsall claimed a point from nowhere.
But the following Monday saw Blues put in one of their best performances on their home patch and they ended a 14-game winless run thanks to goals from Simon Cox, Harry Bunn and Timothee Dieng in a 3-2 win.
They couldn’t follow that up away to Rochdale a week later, however, in front of a brilliant following of Southend fans. Ian Henderson’s second-half goal ensured Rochdale stayed up and that Blues’ fate would be taken to the final day of the season.
The task couldn’t have been much harder. Only a win would guarantee safety, but the opposition were Sunderland who two seasons previously were playing Premier League football. Fortunately, they couldn’t be promoted automatically and they knew they had to settle for the play-offs.
Club stalwart John White put Blues 1-0 up in the 43rd minute but Sunderland were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute which was converted by Chris Maguire. Up step the ‘masked hero’ with three minutes of the season to play.
Stephen Humphrys was the coolest man in the stadium as he slotted past Jon McLaughlin to send everyone barring 1,900 Sunderland fans into hysterics. After seven minutes of injury time the final whistle eventually blew on the season and Blues secured their spot in League One for next season!