Southend United v Torquay United…
Southend United and Torquay United prepare for battle at Roots Hall on Sunday as the final game of the 21/22 season awaits.
Both with nothing but bragging rights to play for, the two sides look to finish their respective campaigns on a high, the Gulls eager to fly up to ninth, while Blues look to hold their 12th position.
Kevin Maher’s squad will have had 13 days rest in their legs after last taking to the field on Bank Holiday Monday in a 1-1 draw against Weymouth, Blues dominated on the day but couldn’t exert their superiority through the score line.
But Gary Johnson’s Torquay were in action as recently as Wednesday, when they were marginally beaten by league leaders Stockport County 1-0, the Gulls have faced top eight sides in each of their last three outings.
The two teams met at Plainmoor back in September, and Torquay pounced on Blues’ poor start to the campaign as the hosts ran out 1-0 victors.
Connor Lemonheigh-Evans found the back of the net to break the deadlock in the 90th minute, which sunk Southend further towards the fifth-tier relegation zone.
Like Blues, Torquay also didn’t start the 21/22 season well after suffering the disappointment of their playoff final, penalty shootout defeat to months before the start of the new season.
But Johnson rejuvenated his side and made some important signings to make a launch back up the table.
And despite never really challenging for the top seven this season, the Gulls have hovered in and around that area of the table, setting strong foundations for next season with some good momentum.
However, they will have to be on their guard to protect some of their biggest assets this season, Armani Little in particular, who has had a fantastic season in the middle of the field for the Devon side.
Johnson is a serial winner, notably with West Country sides, he has already won one promotion with Torquay, and will be keen to make another push towards the top next term.
Blues have enjoyed a revival of form heading into the season’s conclusion, picking up 10 points from their last 15 on offer.
The only defeat in their last five outings came against high-flying Wrexham, but Maher’s side were frustrated when they were held to a draw by Weymouth last time out.
Blues’ recent good form has been largely resultant of their resilience, having only scored three goals in their last four matches, but conceding just two in that time.
The Gulls have won one of their last six games, but have faced a tough batch of fixtures in recent weeks.
Johnson’s side doesn’t lose by large margins, they’ve been defeated twice in their last 10 matches, and both came against sides in the top seven.
Torquay have picked up five points from their last five matches.
From The Boss:
"We’re at home and we want to finish the season on a high," said Maher.
"The last few performances at home – Halifax, Boreham Wood and Weymouth even though we drew, have been good and it’s important we carry that on against Torquay now.
"Torquay are a good team with some good players.
"They’ve been in and around the play-offs this season but haven’t quite made it.
"They’re a good footballing team though and it will make for a good game."
Blues’ Team News:
Maher confirmed he will be making late fitness checks on Nathan Ralph, Sam Dalby, Kenny Clark, Noor Husin and Tom Clifford as they have all taken the 13-day break to recover from respective injuries.
The Blues boss will "decide nearer the time" as to whether he will feature John White, the defender hasn’t started for Southend since Boxing Day.
Harry Cardwell is definitely ruled out, along with Rhys Murphy, Abu Ogogo and Simeon Akinola.
Aaron Jackson will take charge of proceedings as the Blues and the Gulls meet at Roots Hall.
In 15 National League matches this season, Jackson has shown 41 yellow cards and three reds.
He last officiated Blues in their 2-2 draw away at Chesterfield, and was also referee when Abu Ogogo was shown two yellow cards in the same passage of play to be sent off away at Boreham Wood.
He will be joined by Hugh Gilroy and Daniel Todd, with Jack Willmore 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) if bought in advance of matchday. Princes increase by £2 on the day of the game.
Final Day Fixtures:
Aldershot Town v Wealdstone
Altrincham v Yeovil Town
Barnet v Bromley
Boreham Wood v Solihull Moors
Chesterfield v Woking
Dagenham and Redbridge v Wrexham
Dover Athletic v Weymouth
Eastleigh v Grimsby Town
Maidenhead United v Notts County
Stockport County v FC Halifax Town
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.
21/22 End of Season Awards
After the full-time whistle we will be presenting the Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Goal of the Season awards.
This will take place immediately after the game, before the players go on their lap of appreciation around the pitch, so please stay in your seats for both.
Thank you for your support this season!