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Great win but this week's games will show just how far Southend United have come
GAVIN Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga both bagged braces as Southend United continued their recent upturn in form with a convincing and incredibly comfortable 4-1 win at Torquay on Saturday.
The Blues strikers were in fine form in front of goal as they fired Paul Sturrock's side to a fifth straight game without defeat.
And that came after Southend completely battered a Gulls team who had previously boasted the only unbeaten home record in the whole of League Two.
However, the hosts were never in the game at the weekend as they were not allowed any time to settle as Blues dominated proceedings and could quite easily have recorded an even more emphatic triumph.
Despite a few chances going begging and what appeared to be a harsh offside decision going against them, Southend still cruised to victory and, to add to their delight, both of their strikers were back on the score-sheet.
Assombalonga went in to the game without having scored a goal in five games for the first time in his career and, in his previous outing against Port Vale, he had looked short of confidence in attack.
But once he found the net again at Torquay he immediately looked back to his best and caused the home-side all kinds of problems with his pace and power.
He soon added a second to take his season's tally to 11 and having Assombalonga confident again will add an extra dimension to the Southend attack.
The same can also be said of his strike partner, Tomlin, who has come close to scoring a number of goals this term.
The experienced striker, who was up against one of his former teams at the weekend, has been incredibly unlucky in attack since signing for Blues and has continually been denied by the woodwork or some fantastic goalkeeping.
However, against Torquay, things started to go Tomlin's way and he showed fantastic composure and quality when converting both of his goals.
He now should also be boosted by returning to the score-sheet and Southend therefore have a strike-force right back on top form.
That will provide them with a big boost in the next few weeks but, while the strikers deservedly hit the headlines for their goals, the work going on behind them is perhaps even more crucial.
For the new look midfield of Kevan Hurst, Marc Laird, Tamika Mkandawire and Michael Timlin is the main reason behind Blues' turnaround in form.
Prior to the arrivals of Laird and Mkandawire in the centre of the park, Southend looked lightweight in that key area of the pitch and were often overrun by their opponents.
But, with the new look quartet, it is Blues getting on top in midfield which, in turn, has allowed them to dictate matches. It is no coincidence that Southend's five match unbeaten run started when Laird signed on loan from Leyton Orient and the addition of Mkandawire has further strengthened the side.
Subsequently, things are starting to look good again for Blues and they now sit just two points below a place in the play-offs.
Manager Sturrock deserves credit for instigating the improved results with new tactics and transfers which seem to have also enabled him to finally set up a settled side.
That too has played a part in the recent good results and, means that after an indifferent start to the season, Southend could be well be making another push for promotion.
Yet for that to happen results against teams down towards the bottom of the table must start to improve, along with the home form.
And both of those areas will be tested this week with a trip to lowly AFC Wimbledon tomorrow before Rochdale visit Roots Hall on Saturday, meaning the next few days could give a clearer indication of just how far the new look Southend side have progressed.