Maidenhead United v Southend United…
Southend United look to continue their push into the top half of the National League standings as they visit Maidenhead United this evening.
The 21/22 campaign looks to be gliding to an uneventful conclusion for the Magpies, and while hopeful shouts of a play-off push linger for the Blues, it remains an optimistic objective.
Kevin Maher’s side got back to winning ways on Saturday after suffering their first defeat of 2022 prior to that, as a 2-0 victory over Altrincham on Saturday meant that Blues have been beaten just once in their last 14 outings.
But they face a sturdy side led by former West Ham midfielder Alan Devonshire, a side that has surprised many so far this season and have proven on many occasions that, on their day, they can be a sure match for any team in the division.
The two sides took a share of the spoils when they met at Roots Hall in December, a game of two halves saw Maher’s men open the scoring in the first half after a commanding display, but they were pegged back in the second period with the visitors well on top throughout.
Renowned as a massive danger to the top sides in the division, the Magpies have pulled off multiple impressive results against high-flying opposition to gain a comfortable 13-point gap above the relegation zone.
Devonshire, in his 14th year managing the club in total, established his side as a resilient outfit, at times, making the gulf in playing budgets unthinkable - while unveiling an exciting young talent in striker Josh Kelly.
They have struggled in recent weeks, but the Magpies deserve credit for creating such a comfortable cushion above relegation so early, and they’ll be eyeing up an even stronger campaign next season, despite likely interest in their star man up top.
Kelly, 23, has scored 12 goals so far this season, 14 in all competitions.
Since drawing with Blues in December, Maidenhead have undergone an indifferent run of form, but impressive home wins against Bromley, Chesterfield, FC Halifax Town and Boreham Wood show just how much of a threat they can be, when on their game.
This evening’s hosts go into the clash with Blues having lost their last three matches on the spin.
Devonshire’s men have failed to score in their last five outings, while picking up just one point from their last 15 on offer.
But, before the recent poor form, the Magpies enjoyed a run in which they tasted defeat just once in 10 matches, their solitary loss in that time coming against league leaders Stockport County.
Meanwhile, Maher’s outfit clinched a 2-0 victory against Altrincham last time out to right the wrongs of their previous performance against Dagenham & Redbridge.
Blues have now been beaten just once in their last 14 matches and have picked up eight points from their last five matches.
From The Boss:
"It will be a very tough game," said Maher.
"They will be very competitive and it’s a tough place to go.
"They had a narrow defeat at the weekend so I’m sure they will be looking to respond, and they might have one or two back as well.
"The lads in the second half did ever so well and it gives us something to think about."
Blues’ Team News:
Harry Cardwell again looks likely to miss out for Maher’s men, the Blues boss confirmed the striker is ‘getting closer’ and ‘hopefully a matter of days’ away.
Nathan Ralph is also likely to miss out, the defender was substituted off at half-time on Saturday.
Noor Husin will also be unavailable as he misses his first of two matches for Blues, the midfielder is on international duty for Afghanistan.
Rhys Murphy, Simeon Akinola and Abu Ogogo are all out long-term.
Lloyd Wood will be the man holding the cards as Blues make the trip west.
Wood officiated Maher’s side’s home outing against King’s Lynn Town back in January, the referee pointed to the penalty spot in the dying moments of the game to award Southend a penalty, which Sam Dalby converted to earn all three points for the hosts.
Wood has called the shots in 10 National League fixtures so far this season, brandishing 28 yellow cards and one red in that time.
Joining him will be Jonathan Bolland and Daniel Todd, with Nicholas Matcalfe as fourth official.
Elsewhere in the National League:
Altrincham v Chesterfield
Eastleigh v Dagenham and Redbridge
Grimsby Town v Solihull Moors
King’s Lynn Town v Stockport County
Notts County v Boreham Wood
Torquay United v Aldershot Town
Woking v Weymouth
Wrexham v FC Halifax Town
Yeovil Town v Bromley
How to Follow:
Blues fans unable to attend York Road 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.