Grimsby Town v Southend United…
Southend United face the long journey to Cleethorpes tonight, as they and Grimsby Town clash in front of the BT Sport cameras.
And Blues will be meeting with some familiar faces, the Mariners occupied the second relegation spot from League Two last season, finishing two points below Southend; Paul Hurst’s side were rock-bottom of the fourth-tier standings.
But they did not let their poor form carry into the 2021/22 season and will be yet another tough test for Kevin Maher’s men as the hosts sit third in the Vanarama National League standings.
The two sides’ meetings last season produced favourable results for Southend, then led by Mark Molesley, as they emerged 3-1 victors at Roots Hall a month before a 0-0 stalemate at Blundell Park.
You have to date back 24 years to find Grimsby’s last victory against Blues.
In their long and fruitful history, Grimsby have played at various levels of the English football pyramid, including some of the very highest.
But recent history has not been so kind to the Lincolnshire side.
Five years after manager Hurst led the Mariners to promotion from the fifth tier in 2016, he oversaw their relegation back to the National League after being re-appointed in late December 2020.
But, after an ownership takeover in the summer, there was to be no relegation hangover for Town, as they raced to the top of the table early on this season.
Some disappointing results in recent weeks have seen the 143-year-old club pushed off their top spot, but they’re still very much one of the stronger outfits in the division.
And by having Hurst in the dugout, they’re guided by a manager who has experience of success in the National League, already achieving promotion with the Mariners, an accolade the 47-year-old will be gunning to achieve with the club again this season.
Blues' 2-0 defeat at home to Woking last Saturday was their fourth loss from their last five matches in all competitions.
With regards to their form away from home, Blues have yet to win since their opening day 1-0 victory against King’s Lynn Town.
Southend have scored two goals away from home in the National League this season.
As for tonight’s hosts, their impeccable early season form has set them up for a push for promotion, however, their recent results have seen them slump from the top spot they once occupied.
In both cup and league fixtures, Hurst’s men have lost four of their last five matches, including a 2-1 defeat against strugglers Aldershot Town and a 1-0 setback against National League North outfit Kidderminster Harriers.
Grimsby have lost each of those four matches by a one goal margin.
From The Boss:
"It’ll be a tough game,” said Maher.
"They’ve been going ever so well and they’ve got a top manager as well who knows the level and the levels above.
"We’re looking forward to it, it’s a good game for us, one not to be afraid of and as tough as it’ll be, it’ll be a good atmosphere and we know we have to perform.
"They’re right up there, and knowing the manager as I do he’ll have them at it and we have to be prepared to go and get a result.
"We want to win every game; it’s obviously disappointing we haven’t picked up more points but we want to win football matches.”
Blues’ Team News:
Jack Bridge will be out of action for six weeks, as he underwent a knee operation this week.
Tom Clifford has stepped up his training as he recovers from a long-term ankle injury, but the Grimsby clash will come too soon for the left-back.
Josh Coulson and Simeon Akinola remain out long-term.
Jacob Miles will oversee proceedings tonight at Blundell Park.
In his second season as a National League referee, Miles has issued 13 yellow cards and no reds across four games so far this campaign.
He was an assistant as Blues were defeated 2-0 by Portsmouth at Fratton Park in the 18/19 season.
He will be aided by Timothy Walker and Daniel Robinson; Dean Watson will be fourth official.
Elsewhere in the National League:
Barnet v Torquay United
Boreham Wood v Maidenhead United
Bromley v King’s Lynn Town
Dagenham and Redbridge v Yeovil Town
Dover Athletic v FC Halifax
Eastleigh v Notts County
Solihull Moors v Chesterfield
Weymouth v Altrincham
Woking v Stockport County
Wrexham v Wealdstone
How to Follow:
Tonight’s clash will be televised live on BT Sport with coverage starting from 19:15.
Tickets are available on the day for Blues fans, following the conclusion of the pre-sale at 180 sold - we wish those heading to Blundell Park a safe journey this afternoon.
Blues fans unable to attend Blundell Park 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.