After an extended break, Southend United head to Weymouth on Saturday hoping to kick off 2022 with a win.
We’ve taken a look at five talking points ahead of the match.
Start as You Mean to Go On
Southend make the long trip to Weymouth on Saturday in their first game of 2022. With two new signings through the door, Kacper Lopata’s loan extended until the end of the season and more expected, there is renewed optimism surrounding the club. After a torrid three years, Maher will be hoping that his side can bring back joy to the loyal Shrimpers who backed their team so well in 2021 starting with a win on Saturday.
When One Door Closes, Another Opens
Highly rated attacking midfielder Zak Brunt returned to parent club Sheffield United on Tuesday, and went on to join Notts County, following the expiry of his loan deal at Roots Hall. Southend fans were understandably quick to thank Brunt for his short spell at the club, as he inspired some strong performances, including last time out against Bromley. However, as one Blade left another joined when Harrison Neal signed on loan until the end of the season. Neal, who spent time on loan at Kettering in the first half of the season, scored a wonder goal last week and goes straight into contention for Saturday’s match.
Blues were boosted in midweek by the return of Sheffield United loanee Kacper Lopata. The Polish U20 International played seven games for Blues before a knee injury kept him out for a short time. But with a return to full fitness nearing, Head Coach Kevin Maher extended the loan of Lopata, saying, “he’s a great character and a very good player.” Not only this, but Blues also announced the signing of Concord defender Ollie Kensdale on New Year’s Eve, after a brief spell training with Blues. The 6ft 3 youngster comes into the thinking ahead of Saturday’s fixture. And both will also have competition with fellow centre back Josh Coulson also making a return from injury against Bromley.
Blues kick off a busy January, in which they play all three teams below them in the league, on Saturday at Bob Lucas Stadium. Just one point separates Southend and Weymouth, with the Blues having one game in hand over the Terras. With Weymouth having won at home just once since August, Blues will be hoping to widen the gap between themselves and the relegation zone. A win could see Southend rise to 19th, should Maidenhead fail to win away at Aldershot Town, but a defeat will see Southend drop to the bottom three - something all at Blues will be keen to avoid.
When Southend head to the Bob Lucas Stadium on Saturday, they will be buoyed by the knowledge of having never lost to the Dorset-based side. The two sides have met twice in the FA Cup, with Southend victorious in both- a 1-0 win in 1955, and a 7-0 thumping in 1970! Blues also travelled to the Bob Lucas Stadium in 2019, when they continued their pre-season preparations. Goals from Stephen Humphrys and Isaac Hutchinson weren’t enough for the win this time though as Kevin Bond’s Southend draw 2-2, in a game that saw Blues use 21 players in typical pre-season fashion.