Southend United break the mould this November

Echo: Gavin Tomlin - five goals in three games Gavin Tomlin - five goals in three games

NOVEMBER is notoriously normally quite an indifferent month for Southend United.

But that has certainly not been the case this season.

For Saturday's 3-1 victory against Rochdale at Roots Hall was Blues' third in seven days and their fifth in six games.

And that has propelled Paul Sturrock's side to fourth in the League Two table.

As a result, they are now right back in the push for promotion and that has also been achieved with Blues playing a more entertaining brand of football.

Eleven goals have subsequently been scored in the last three outings and Southend look very much like the real deal at this moment in time.

Mark Phillips and Ryan Cresswell have forged a central defensive partnership up there with the very best at this level and, since the arrivals of Marc Laird and Tamika Mkandawire, Blues also boast a quality midfield.

It is no coincidence that since the loan duo arrived at the club Southend have not been beaten in seven games and that Michael Timlin has also been able to hit top form.

Further forward, Blues now also possess what must currently be the most potent strike-force in League Two as Gavin Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga have bagged eight goals between them in their last three games.

That bodes well for Blues who have proved their promotion credentials in the past week by beating a team towards the foot of the table and by finally winning at home again in the league.

Both of those tasks had been causing problems for Southend so far this season but the new look side, which importantly now has a settled starting line up, have shown they are clearly capable of stringing together a sustained period of results.

Despite that there are still a few reasons to be concerned as goalkeeper Paul Smith again had a couple of shaky moments between the sticks which could be punished and prove costly in a tighter game against a top team.

Even more worrying than that, however, is that a trio of Blues' best players right now are only with the club on loan.

Assombalonga, Laird and Mkandawire could all return to their parent clubs in January and that would leave Sturrock back at square one, attempting to conjure up another winning formula with a different starting 11.

In fact, there could be a glimpse of the problems such a disruption could cause in Southend's next couple of games as Assombalonga and Mkandawire have both been denied permission to play in the FA Cup at Bury on Saturday, while Laird will be cup tied for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy clash with Brentford.

Both of those matches come against League One sides and will cause a selection headache for Sturrock.

Does he go with the strongest side available to him or does he give players on the fringe of the starting line-up an opportunity to impress and improve their fitness.

While making those decisions, the importance of a cup run in either competition must also be assessed.

But, despite the financial rewards reaching the later rounds would bring, neither of them can be allowed to interfere or distract from the main focus, which has to remain a push for promotion.

That target has now got back on track, thanks to a fantastic November.

However, Blues must build on the impressive form and results if they are to remain in contention but they cannot be affected by whatever the outcome of their cup games may be.

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