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Match Previews

BIG PREVIEW: STOCKPORT VS SOUTHEND

8 April 2022

Stockport County v Southend United…

Overview:

Bidding for a return to winning ways, Southend United face the toughest of tests on Saturday as they clash with National League leaders Stockport County in front of the BT Sport cameras.

Blues have struggled in recent weeks to match the impressive form displayed earlier in the year, and have lost four of their last five matches.

Kevin Maher’s side is now tasked with a trip to Edgeley Park to face the juggernauts of the fifth tier, who sit eight points clear at the summit of the standings.

A much-improved side from that which Blues faced at the start of the season, the Hatters will be eyeing up their ninth successive league win on Saturday, to take their tally of victories for the season to 26.

Their first triumph of the campaign came against Southend at Roots Hall, a 1-0 win with John Rooney on target; the attacking midfielder has since moved to Barrow. 

The Opposition:

When Blues met the Hatters earlier in the season, Simon Rusk was in the Stockport dugout.

The now assistant manager for Dundee was removed from his post at Edgeley Park in October, and the highly rated Dave Challinor was installed as his replacement.

The transformation has been remarkable, and results reflective of the club’s ambition to return to the Football League.

In his five-month spell so far, Challinor has lost just one league game in the Hatters’ hotseat, propelling his side to the top of the table in convincing fashion.

Possessing a squad oozing with players able to play above National League level, a young manager bidding for a second successive promotion, and a board able to back the team with eye-catching recruitment, Stockport find themselves in a strong position to see out a title-winning campaign to land themselves back in the EFL after 11 years in the non-league scene.

Form:

Going into the tough tie, Blues find themselves struggling to grind out victories like they did in their previous 13-match unbeaten run.

Maher’s side have lost four of their last five outings, and have scored just three goals in that time.

Blues will be keen to see out the season in strong fashion, as neither relegation nor a play-off spot seem to lie in wait heading into the run in. 

The same cannot be said for the Hatters, who go into this weekend’s clash having won their last eight league matches.

They did, however, fall to defeat in their last outing as they were beaten 2-0 by Wrexham in the FA Trophy semi-final.

If they continue their impeccable form and clinch the league title, they’ll certainly be forgiven for their Trophy slip up. Challinor’s men will be eager to get back to winning ways on Saturday, and so will Maher's men. 

From The Boss:

"They’re a yardstick for everyone in this league," said Maher.

"I think any manager would say the same at this level at the minute, it will be a good test and one the players will hopefully respond to and stand up.

"It’s on TV as well so it’s a good occasion to go and show how good you are.

"We’ll have an idea of how we want to go about things and if we can impose on the game at the right moments then let’s see what happens."

Blues’ Team News:

Ollie Kensdale remains a doubt as he continues to recover from a thigh problem.

Harry Cardwell is also unlikely to feature, Maher confirmed that the striker had an injection to try to settle the problem but is keen to not rush him back.

Nathan Ralph is also out, as his longer-term problem keeps him side-lined.

Rhys Murphy, Abu Ogogo and Simeon Akinola remain unavailable.

Tickets

Tickets are on sale from Stockport's ticket website.

Pay on the day will be available from the Stockport Ticket Office from 1pm on Saturday.

Blues fans will be situated in the Together Stand.

Prices are £18 for adults, £12 for students, seniors (65+), disabled fans, £5 for 6-17-year-olds and free for Under 5's.

Ref Watch:

Scott Simpson will be calling the shots in Blues’ televised match at Edgeley Park.

He has refereed 14 games so far this season, and has brandished 45 yellow cards in that time, alongside three reds.

Simpson previously took charge of Southend’s FA Cup first round clash away at Chesterfield, where an off-the-ball incident saw Zak Brunt and Calvin Miller given their marching orders.

The decision was later appealed by Blues and Brunt’s suspension rescinded.

Simpson will be joined by Lewis Raper and Stuart Morland, with Sam Mulhall as fourth official.

Elsewhere in the National League:

Aldershot Town v Boreham Wood

Barnet v Solihull Moors

Bromley v Dagenham and Redbridge

Dover Athletic v Maidenhead United

FC Halifax Town v Woking

King’s Lynn Town v Yeovil Town

Torquay United v Notts County

Wealdstone v Chesterfield

Weymouth v Grimsby Town

Wrexham v Eastleigh

How to Follow:

Blues fans unable to attend Edgeley 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.


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