WHAT IF seems to be the question most associated with Southend United’s attempted giant killing acts.
And Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Premier League Hull City in the fourth round of the FA Cup was certainly no different.
For adding to the list of David Crown’s shot that hit the post against Tottenham Hotspur, Stan Collymore’s disallowed goal at Sheffield Wednesday and Alex Revell’s missed header against Chelsea will forever be the stunning Michael Timlin shot that hit the crossbar at the weekend.
The midfielder’s speculative long range shot bounced back off the woodwork when the game was still goalless and had that gone in then the game could well have gone in a different outcome.
But, as it proved, Hull survived the scare and went on to work their way in to the fifth round courtesy of two goals from Matty Fryatt in the final half an hour of the game.
The visitors’ superior class in the final third of the pitch was the main difference between the two teams.
However, the Shrimpers should be incredibly proud of their efforts as for more than a hour they remained locked level with the Tigers and produced another incredibly hard working performance.
Blues allowed Hull little time to settle when on the ball and gave a great account of themselves in front of a sold out home end of the stadium which resulted in a crowd of more than 10,000 at Roots Hall.
The closeness of the clash again emphasised just why the game should undoubtedly have been screened live on television.
But, although the game could well be one to live long in the memory, it now needs to be completely forgotten about for the remainder of this season as the Shrimpers revert back to pushing for promotion.
Blues dropped down to seventh in the League Two standings due to the results of their rivals at the weekend and such is the closeness towards the top of the table that the Shrimpers cannot afford to suffer any kind of hangover from their FA Cup exit.
Phil Brown’s side are immediately back in action at Dagenham & Redbridge tomorrow night in a game which will severely test their attitude and application.
Daggers have already beaten Blues twice this term and will again be looking to come out on top against their Essex rivals.
However, if the Shrimpers can repeat the standard of Saturday’s showing against Hull then they will undoubtedly get back to winning ways.
Improvements will need to be made in the Southend attack, although the standard of Hull’s defence is unlikely to be matched in League Two.
But Blues will now be able to call on the returning Lee Barnard who received a warm reception from the home supporters when he came on to the pitch just before kick-off at the weekend.
Barnard remains a natural finisher and will convert a high percentage of the chances that come his way once he is back to full fitness.
The Billericay based forward has not played a competitive fixture since April 2013 and it will also be interesting to see how he fits in to the current 4-3-3 formation currently being used by the Shrimpers.
It was imperative Blues bolstered their attacking options during the transfer window and Barnard’s form will now have a huge say on deciding Southend’s destiny this season.
If he can perform like he did in his previous spell with the Shrimpers then they have a huge chance of securing success in the months to come.
Saturday’s performance against Hull again showed Blues have the battling qualities and organisation to finish in the top three.
And maybe then they might also avoid more what if moments.