Southend United v Dagenham & Redbridge…
Southend United and Dagenham & Redbridge face off for the third time this season at Roots Hall tonight, Blues bidding to avoid an unwanted hat-trick of defeats against the Daggers.
Kevin Maher’s first game as Head Coach came against Daryl McMahon’s outfit, a baptism of fire ending in a 3-0 setback at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
And Blues suffered similar misfortunes in their second visit, when the two sides were drawn to face each other in the FA Trophy second round and the hosts again prevailed, winning by two goals to nil.
But Maher’s side are a far different proposition now, currently 13 unbeaten in the league and undefeated on home soil since November, tonight’s hosts will see just how far they’ve come against a side they struggled against earlier in the campaign.
Since the turn of the year, the Daggers have struggled to establish a consistent run of form to make a play-off spot comfortable.
McMahon’s side are still firmly in the running for the top seven, they sit just six points below Grimsby Town in seventh, with a game in hand on the Mariners.
A notable weakness in the Daggers’ recent run has been their inability to beat the teams around them in the table, each of their victories in 2022 have come against sides placed 14th and below.
But this evening’s visitors will certainly provide a stern test for Maher’s improved outfit, and they could move up to ninth if victorious at Roots Hall.
Daggers fans will be very familiar with Blues’ Head of Football John Still, who faces the side he managed for a total of 14 years.
Blues' coaching team of Maher, assistant Darren Currie and first team coach Mark Bentley all also face their former side, having played for the Daggers in their career.
As has often been the case in Blues’ recent outings, Maher’s side lead their opponents in the form guide.
The hosts have won six of their last seven matches at Roots Hall in all competitions, and could stretch their league unbeaten run to 14 matches.
In opposition, McMahon’s side have won their last two league matches, scoring three times in each without reply against Yeovil Town and Maidenhead United.
But they’ve lacked the consistency to mount a real surge towards the top seven, evident in their recent FA Trophy exit against National League North’s York City and 3-0 league defeat against Altrincham.
However, striker Paul McCallum has been in fine form for the Daggers in recent weeks, the 28-year-old has netted seven goals in his last six matches and will pose a huge threat for Blues’ backline.
From The Boss:
"It’s a good game to come back to and one that will be very tough for us,” said Maher.
"We saw them at the weekend, and they were one kick away from being in the semi-final of the Trophy.
"They’re up there in the league as well so we know how tough it will be.
"We’ve come a long way, but we will keep striving to get better.
"We want to improve all the time, and this is another game we will need the same attitude and tempo that we have been playing at."
Blues’ Team News:
Harry Cardwell and Matt Dennis both trained on Monday, after being out injured for Blues’ 1-0 win against Grimsby Town.
Maher will be forced to make at least one change to the side that beat the Mariners, centre back Kacper Lopata is no longer available for selection after being recalled by parent club Sheffield United.
That could see Tom Clifford return to the starting line-up, the fullback is back in contention following his injury issue.
Rhys Murphy, Simeon Akinola and Abu Ogogo all remain out.
Ryan Atkin will referee Blues for the third time this season when the Daggers make the trip to Roots Hall.
Atkin previously called the shots in Maher’s side’s 2-0 home defeat to Woking, and 1-0 triumph at Dover Athletic.
In his eight National League outings this season, the referee has brandished 30 yellow cards, alongside three reds.
Atkin will be joined by Alan Cresswell and Hugh Gilroy as assistants, with Fabio Roque as fourth official.
Tickets are on sale for the game from the Blues Box Office online, on the phone (0344 477 0077) or in person.
Tickets cost £20 for adults, £15 for concessions and £10 for juniors (9-16) and £5 for a child (8 and under).
Elsewhere in the National League:
Barnet v Boreham Wood
FC Halifax Town v Bromley
Stockport County v Notts County
How to Follow:
Blues fans unable to attend Roots Hall 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.
The matchday programme ‘Roots Review’ will be available to buy from programme sellers outside the stadium at the programme hut and the West Stand entrance.
The programme hut is based at the bottom of the main car park off Victoria Avenue.
A digital matchday programme can be bought via MatchDay Digital.