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Festive spirit comes early for Southend United
THE strength of Southend United’s team spirit again shone through as they fought back to superbly secure a share of the spoils against Bradford City at Roots Hall on Saturday.
Blues seemed destined for defeat when the Bantams, who are one of the most in form sides in League Two at present, led 2-0 with just 10 minutes to go.
But Southend refused to throw in the towel and responded brilliantly to bag two quick goals and what could prove to be a precious point.
It was the 11th time already this season that Paul Sturrock’s side had come back from a losing position to take something from the game.
And Blues have now claimed 16 points from matches they had at one stage been losing and that is more than any other team in the basement league.
That statistic underlines the togetherness in the team at present and is one of the main reasons why the Blues have surged up the League Two standings.
For while last season’s side may have had more talented individual players, with the likes of Ryan Hall and Bilel Mohsni, there is more collectivity in the current set up which should bode well for the remainder of the campaign.
The additions of Marc Laird and Tamika Mkandawire have also been hugely significant as there is now genuine competition for places in the side.
As a result, boss Paul Sturrock is now able to call on a higher standard of substitutes, which was again of real significance on Saturday.
There can be no denying that the introduction of Barry Corr in attack helped sway things in Southend’s favour as he bullied and hustled Bradford’s back four and won numerous headers to tee up his team-mates.
Freddy Eastwood also entered the acti on late on but towards the start of the season, Sturrock was not even able to muster seven substitutes and, when they did, it included members of the youth team.
But, from such a sorry state of affairs, the Blues boss now has the likes of Elliot Benyon, John Spicer and Alex Woodyard who did not make it on to the bench for Saturday’s game with the Bantams.
However, they may well be called upon in the coming weeks as Southend face a flurry of fixtures in the festive period during a spell which could well make or break their season.
With so many points to be played for in such a short space of time, sides will be moving up and down the league table looking to push on into the new year.
Blues will be no different and, on the back of 12 games undefeated, they will also be confident of remaining up towards the top of the table.
However, the futures of influential loan trio Britt Assombalonga, Marc Laird and Tamika Mkandawire will also be decided during January and that will also have a huge say in determining Southend’s destiny this season.
Without them, Blues would be nowhere near as strong and, with the club’s finances in a fragile state, replacements of similar quality may not be able to fit into the budget if those players were to return to their parent clubs.
All that has yet to be decided and, such is the norm with following the fortunes of Southend, there is plenty to always be concerned about.
But, in the last few months, boss Sturrock has rebuilt a team which has gathered remarkable momentum and can now rightly be considered as one of the strongest at this level.
Saturday’s fight back showed just exactly why and everyone connected with the club will now be hoping things can be held together both on and off the pitch to enable the progress to continue.