Stevenage v Southend United [Preview]

By Pete H

Oh – how close we came to a priceless win on the road midweek. No time to dwell, however. It’s back home for another big match; Southend United indoors, and a match that we cannot really be seen to lose. We’d even go as far to say that a draw will be far from ideal against the Shrimpers. Sure – the 2020-1 League Two season still has plenty of twists and turns to come. But we’d quite like to see us out of the relegation zone as soon as possible.

Luckily, this weekend is as soon as possible. The Shrimpers themselves are prime candidates for the drop. They might not like us saying that – but they are bottom of the table as things stand; seven points adrift with one win to their name. Now you start to see why losing this one is a big no-no. A win, meanwhile, could lift us to the dizzying heights of 18th in the table. We’ve shown enough about ourselves in the last week-or-so to prove we can do it.

But perhaps we also need a little bit of the Corporal Jones about us and not panic should we be defending a one goal lead in the dying moments. Y’know, not doing this…

The Details: Stevenage v Southend United

Where’s the game?

It’s at the Lamex. And that’s the way we like it.

Can I watch Stevenage v Southend United?

If you’re a season ticket holder, you can’t have missed the news that you can *actually* go to this one. Like, in the ground. In person. With others. But wearing a mask. Yet still! If you don’t have a season ticket or live in a Tier 3 area like our leper Ed, you’ll still have to make do with iFollow ’til we can open up the ground more. Or Matt Hancock says you’re healthy enough…

How are Boro’ shaping up…?

Now, our first half performance at Walsall on Wednesday left a lot to be desired. Whether we were still leggy from two hours against Hull on Sunday, you decide. But our view – no doubt unpopular – is that we can leave the FA Cup if it means our league form is going to suffer. Much like the Trophy was a nothing distraction from our dire form last season, let’s not hope the FA Cup takes our eyes off the prize this time around.

Still, we’re finding the goal with a bit of regularity now – from the penalty spot or not. If we can keep on this upward curve and start putting two or even three chances away a game, we’ll be more than reet. All too often we end up conceding at home; the stats show that it happened in 71% of our matches indoors so far in the league. More goals means smaller chance of throwing away two points – which is how we sort of feel about the Saddlers.

… and how are the Shrimpers doing right now?

Apart from a 1-0 win at Walsall around two weeks ago, it’s been a season to forget for the Shrimpers. It’s the only time in the last nine outings that Southend haven’t lost. In total, it’s 11 defeats in 14 league matches for the Essex side. So, you could almost say that there’s an expectation on Boro’ to win this. Again, not winning here isn’t going to reflect on us too well. The Shrimpers have the worst form, away record, attack and defence in the division.

We don’t doubt, however, that any optimistic souls still hanging around Roots Hall have an eye on this match as a chance to collect a point or three themselves. And if five of your six points to date come on the road, why not? Luckily, that losing habit plays into our hands. If there’s another warning sign, it’s that half of the Shrimpers goals this season have come in the final 15. We’ve let in nearly a third of our Goals Against in that time. So, stay alert lads.

Our story with Southend United so far

If you can believe it, our head-to-head record against the Shrimpers goes back nearly 20 years. We first met in an LDV Trophy clash at Broadhall Way. And we were given a harsh lesson in the gap between the Conference and the Football League back then. Now we’ll fast forward another nine years to when we first played Southend in the first of six league meetings between the two sides – including the 2014-5 League Two playoffs.

The bad news is our head-to-head against them ain’t great at all. We beat them 4-2 at the Lamex in February 2015, while the 2016-7 Checkatrade Trophy saw us batter them 4-0 in our group stage clash. There have also been two draws between us. But they’ve won five in response – including our Carabao Cup encounter last season when we surrendered a first-half lead. Can we redress the balance in what will be our 10th encounter?

Last Time Out: Stevenage 1-2 Southend United, 13 August 2019

Who’s the referee in charge?

Declan Bourne.

Not for the first time this season, we have a brand new man in the middle to get to know. This’ll be Mr Bourne’s first Boro’ match; an unlucky 13th appointment of the current term we’d hope not. In his 12 outings so far, he’s dished out 41 yellows and one red. And he’s only overseen two home wins too. We better lay out an extra special spread for the lad…

Last Meeting: No previous meetings

Stevenage v Southend United: Our verdict?

Let’s not think this match is going to be a walk in the park for Boro’. They’ll make it really hard for us. Or we’ll make it really hard for ourselves. Either one could be correct. But it’s almost essential that we collect all three points this weekend. Not just because we could haul ourselves out of the relegation zone, but also because it’ll be well worth the wait for the fans who are able to return to the Lamex. And we reckon the boys will bring it home.