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No end to Morecambe hoodoo for Southend United
SOUTHEND United’s wretched record against Morecambe continued at the Globe Arena on Saturday as the Shrimps secured a last-gasp 1-0 win.
An 88th-minute effort from former Manchester City striker Jack Redshaw grabbed all three points for the home side.
And it also made it five games without a win against Morecambe for Paul Sturrock’s side, who have yet to get the better of the Lancashire outfit.
Blues battled hard at the weekend and, with Ryan Cresswell in fine form at the heart of the back four, they seemed set to grab a hard-fought share of the spoils.
But Redshaw popped up right at the death to finally see off a spirited but below par Southend, who were again found wanting in midfield.
With Michael Timlin picking up an early injury which restricted his movement in the middle of the park before having to go off, Morecambe were able to dictate play in a crucial area and that again showed Blues are still crying out for another midfielder.
For on Saturday, Ryan Leonard and Kevan Hurst both battled hard in more central areas but their strengths are both out wide and they are wasted out of position.
But with the current lack of midfield options, they have been asked to do a job for the team, along with Timlin.
Prior to the start of this season, the former Fulham trainee had shown he is a midfielder who puts pressure on opponents all over the pitch and is capable of joining in with attacking play in the final third.
But this term, his natural style has been stifled by having to play a deeper role and he too would flourish having someone else alongside him.
Sturrock remains fully aware of the need for a new midfielder but Saturday’s game and the injury to Timlin have now intensified the need for reinforcements.
That could also improve the team’s attacking play and, in turn, ease the scoring burden on the shoulders of Britt Assombalonga.
The on-loan Watford striker has hit the back of the net nine times this term and the rest of Saturday’s starting line-up added together has just seven.
Four of those have been scored by Cresswell and the only other player to have scored more than once this season, Freddy Eastwood, was not brought off the bench at the weekend.
His latest non-appearance angered sections of the Southend support but it remains to be seen just how influential the Eastwood of 2012 can be.
The striker rightfully remains a Roots Hall hero for his successful first spell at the club when his goal-getting capabilities catapulted the team from League Two to the Championship and also helped them beat Manchester United in the Carling Cup.
But, in the five years after leaving Blues, Eastwood scored 22 goals in 159 games with Wolverhampton Wanderers and Coventry City.
Eight goals in the 2009/10 season was also his most prolific campaign during his time away from Southend and opinion therefore remains divided on how influential he can be.
Some fans feel he should still lead the line every week while others accuse them of watching on through rose-tinted glasses.
However, the only way the doubts and questions can finally be answered is by giving Eastwood games.
At present, Gavin Tomlin is struggling to score despite impressing with his work rate and close control, and he may be better suited to playing in a wider role.
That would also enable Eastwood to return and see what he can conjure up.
If he succeeds and rolls back the years then Blues will be boasting one of the best strikeforces in the league.
But if Eastwood fails to deliver then Sturrock will be able to look elsewhere and those fans frustrated by him not playing, will then understand why the striker is being kept on the sidelines.