SOUTHEND United fans remained in a buoyant mood despite losing at Burton and are confident they will be walking down Wembley Way later this month.
The supporters sang themselves hoarse for 90 minutes at the Pirelli Stadium, with more than a thousand making the 320-mile round trip from the south Essex coast yesterday.
Hordes of away fans stood behind the goal Blues were attacking in the second half but, despite a late onslaught on the Burton goal, they were not able to cheer an away goal.
Peter Jennings, 54, above inset, from Leigh, says he is confident Southend will be more attacking in the second leg but fears Burton may “park the bus”.
“That is the only problem when you lose the first leg as the return leg is all about breaking down what will be a very stubborn defence. They will come down to us and defend, defend, defend.”
The loudest shouts from the away end came when Burton centre-back Ian Sharps was sent off with 30 minutes remaining and when John Egan tumbled in the box in the dying seconds.
Mr Jennings says he felt sure it was a penalty.
“In the first half we played OK but we were playing the ball in the air and it was too easy for their defence. I can’t believe we weren’t given a penalty at the end. It looked a stonewall foul from where I was sitting.
“I predict a 2-0 win for Blues next Saturday.”
Dave Longbottom, 53, left, from Southend, said he would make changes to the formation for the return game.
“We need to go more attacking from the start as they will set up defensively. I would start with two up front and maybe give Straker a start ahead of Murphy. Maybe even Gomis as he would offer something a bit different and has that spark.
“We have to start 4-4-2 though. If we do that I am confident of a 2-0 win.”
More than 9,000 Blues supporters are expected to pack out Roots Hall next Saturday but Southend’s tendency to play “pretty football” could cost them, said travelling fan Ian Oakley.
Mr Oakley, 54, from Rayleigh, said: “From time to time it wouldn’t hurt to just go route one. We have the height up front with Corr and players can feed off him. We waste too much time in possession doing very little with the ball.
“I expected more from Southend today and I don’t think any fan would say we played well.
“We need to improve and I would predict us scraping through on penalties.”