Newport County vs Southend United...
Blues are set to face arguably their toughest test of the season so far as they take on League Two leaders Newport County at Rodney Parade tomorrow afternoon.
Newport currently sit a point clear at the top of the table and will be well-rested after their midweek clash with Exeter City was called off due to a waterlogged pitch in Wales.
Mark Molesley’s side though, despite sitting bottom of the table four points from safety, sit above The Exiles in the form guide to show that this top v bottom clash is far from a foregone conclusion.
Tuesday night’s 2-0 defeat to Leyton Orient ended Blues’ five-game unbeaten run, coming off the back of a Boxing Day victory against Colchester United.
In Southend’s last six games, Mark Molesley’s side have also picked up wins against Scunthorpe and Grimsby, while drawing on the road against Stevenage and Mansfield.
Newport’s last outing was a 1-1 draw against Crawley which extended the Exiles winless run to four matches having also drawn against Salford while losing to Leyton Orient and Oldham.
Last League Meeting
Tuesday 14th April 2015
Southend United 2-0 Newport County
Bolger 45’, McLaughlin 51’
Blues’ last league meeting with Newport came in 2015 when two goals either side of the interval secured Southend a 2-0 victory which sealed them a spot in the League Two play-offs.
Cian Bolger headed the home side in front in first-half stoppage time before Stephen McLaughlin grabbed Phil Brown’s side their second six minutes after the restart to wrap up the points.
From The Boss
"You can look at it as a tough start [to the new year] or you can look at it as a great challenge.
"We'll certainly know how far we've come in the last month on how we compete away at the league leaders. It's a game we're really looking forward to.
"After the disappointment of Tuesday it's one we're relishing.
"When we lose it's always my fault and we probably looked physically more tired [against Leyton Orient] than we had done in the previous games.
"When you look back it's probably understandable for some of the players who have come in and are now at the start of their season almost and working up their match legs; Sam Hart and Simeon Akinola.
"John White did two games in a week after injury, as did Ash [Nathaniel-George]. Physically we didn't get to the heights of what we usually have and we're a team built on energy and hard work. It wasn't through lack of effort of the players, it was probably just the game that pinched us.
"We have to make sure Tuesday was just a pinch and just a blip. We have to come out fighting and come out stronger.
"I've got full faith in our group."
Blues Team News
Mark Molesley will wait to see how Alan McCormack fairs in training today before deciding if he’ll travel with the squad, having missed the last two games with a calf problem.
Kyle Taylor is currently in self-isolation after suffering COVID-like symptoms and is just waiting on his test result to see if he can also join the travelling party this weekend.
Tom Clifford is another who faces a race to be fit for Saturday after hobbling off against Mansfield before Christmas with his ankle injury forcing the full-back to miss the last two matches.
With the impressive Scott Twine likely to go back to his parent club, Swindon, Newport will be looking to the experienced Padraig Amond to be their target-man this weekend.
Amond is adept on both his right and left side making him a menace for defenders and he’s a fan favourite at Rodney Parade after scoring over 50 times for The Exiles over the last three years.
The 32-year-old so far this season has eight goals in all competitions, with his most recent strike coming in the 2-0 away win against one of his former clubs, Grimsby, at the start of December.
Southend’s first game of 2021 will be officiated by Paul Howard, with Ravel Cheosiaua and Christopher Wade the assistants, and Will Finnie as the fourth official
Tomorrow will be Howard’s 17th game of the season. In his previous 16 matches, Howard has shown 50 yellow cards and two reds, with his last outing being Plymouth’s 1-0 win against MK Dons.
Howard has officiated Blues once already this season – a 3-0 defeat to Portsmouth in the Papa John’s Trophy – and tomorrow will be his second visit of the season to Rodney Parade.
With fans again unable to attend matches in person, Blues fans can watch tomorrow’s clash with Newport by picking up a Match Pass for iFollow Blues for £10.
Overseas supporters can pick up a pass for just £7 with the pass allowing you to catch the game on your laptop, computer, tablet or mobile device.
For more information on how you can get your Match Pass for iFollow Blues and ensure you miss none of the action from the opening game of 2021, click here.
Please note, match commentary on Saturday will be provided by Newport County and not the usual BBC Essex commentary team. This is due to BBC Essex being unable to travel to the game, which comes following new BBC COVID Safety rules relating to travel to and from a Tier 4 area.