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Gavin Tomlin signifies how confident Southend United are
GAVIN Tomlin’s remarkable scoring streak continued to secure Southend United a deserved 1-1 draw in an entertaining FA Cup second round clash at Bury on Saturday.
The striker bagged a brilliant individual effort to cancel out Matt Doherty’s penalty for the Shakers with his seventh goal in six games.
And the fantastic form is in complete contrast to the start of the season when Tomlin struggled to hit the back of the net and failed to score in his first 12 league games of the new campaign.
However, his new-found confidence is indicative of how things have turned around for Paul Sturrock’s side, who have now not been beaten in eight games.
That run stretches back to the end of October and drawing at an in-form Bury was another impressive result for Southend.
Blues could even have won it right at the death when Michael Timlin and Barry Corr were both denied by the woodwork in a frantic finale to an exciting, end-to-end encounter which saw plenty of chances at both ends of the pitch.
Those watching on from the stands were certainly kept entertained and Blues’ travelling supporters added to the occasion by making a terrific noise behind the goal.
In front of them, Southend were not quite as on form as they have been in the last few weeks and that must have been down to Tamika Mkandawire and Britt Assom-balonga being denied permission to play by their parent clubs.
Without them, Michael Timlin was pushed in to a more defensive midfield role in which he did well, but he remains stifled in that position, which stops him moving around the pitch.
Further forward, Southend missed the pace of Britt Assombalonga and, with Barry Corr feeling unwell, it was Freddy Eastwood who was handed a start in attack.
However, he looked short of match sharpness and it remains a real concern what will happen when the loan spells of Mkandawire, Assombalonga and the equally influential Marc Laird all come to an end in January.
But before then comes the worry of a fixture pile up.
For Saturday’s draw added a replay to an already busy schedule for Blues and tomorrow’s Johnstone's Paint Trophy game against Brentford will be the first of seven in the next 25 days for Southend.
That will put pressure on a small squad of players which could soon be reduced even further in size as both Mark Phillips and Michael Timlin are just one booking away from being banned.
As a result, Sturrock will need to try and freshen up his side when possible, with the aim of keeping everyone as fit as possible for the league, which remains the most important competition for Southend.
With that in mind, it may well make sense to rest a few players for tomorrow’s game with Brentford in order to keep them in shape for Saturday’s more important league game at Fleetwood Town.
Such a decision may well increase the chances of defeat and could be questioned by the supporters and the chairman if the result does not go Southend’s way.
But those coming into the team will be giving their all to stay in the side and will be desperate to help Blues come out on top.
More importantly, making changes would stop players becoming fatigued but, whatever he decides to do, Sturrock is in for a tough few weeks which could prove pivotal in deciding his side’s destiny this season.