ECHOSPORT talks to Matthew Foster from the 'Go Mad or Stop Caring' blog ahead of tomorrow's match at Roots Hall.

Maidenhead are currently 19th in the table, just above Southend. What have you made of the season so far?

"It has been tough going, to be honest, particularly the last few weeks.

"Following an extraordinary 3-2 home victory over ten-man Wrexham - in front of their Hollywood owners - the Magpies have lost three straight games and conceded 15 goals, including seven in a remarkable FA Cup tie at Halifax.

"Injuries have not been kind to Alan Devonshire's squad since pre-season, but we appear to lack quality in crucial areas, and it does feel a little bit like the manager is throwing mud at the wall at the moment, hoping some will stick.

"Our lineup seemingly changes from game to game, which is obviously not conducive to success; our last win versus a fellow National League side, without the aid of a dismissal, came against relegation favourites Dover Athletic at York Road in late August."

What had been the expectations for the club this season and what do you feel is still possible?

"Maidenhead United competing with former Football League clubs in the National League is a surreal experience.

"And each new season, for us at this level, starts with the same goal: stay up, keep the dream alive!

"That said, I do think survival is a realistic expectation - what with the points deduction for Dover and only three relegation places.

"We lost some key players from last season, though, with Josh Coley and Danilo Orsi-Dadomo moving to Exeter City and Harrogate Town, respectively, and Rohan Ince to Woking. Adequately replacing the likes of them was never going to be easy. As since proven.

"Ex-Southend trialist Jamie Sendles-White made an unexpected debut in the 4-0 defeat at Boreham Wood on Saturday, after which the talismanic Devonshire gave a rare and perhaps telling post-match interview.

"He hinted at further personnel changes - possibly regardless of the outcome at Roots Hall on Tuesday night.

"However, our playing budget is dwarfed by that of most other National League clubs. So jettisoning underperformers and or signing worthwhile reinforcements is far from straightforward.

"Dev certainly has a big job on his hands to steady the ship, but history suggests that he will get things right at the end of the day."

You have quite a few ex Southend players. How have Sam Barratt, Emile Acquah, and Kane Ferdinand all been playing for you?

"Kane Ferdinand signed from Woking in a de facto swap with Ince.

"He has chipped in with some vital goals - not least a last-gasp winner at Halifax on opening day - but, rightly or wrongly, has suffered comparisons with the ex-Brighton midfielder.

The physically imposing Acquah has seen more playing time of late - as Nathan Blissett struggles with his form and fitness - and scored a brace in the FA Cup defeat at Halifax. I hope that coming up against his former club will put some fire in his belly.

"Much was expected of Sam Barratt when he signed a two-year contract extension in the summer. Frustratingly, he has again suffered disruptions caused by niggling injuries."

Some Southend fans may not know too much about Maidenhead. What can you tell us about your more recent history?

"Southend United was crowned 2005/06 League One champions after beating Bristol City 1–0 at Roots Hall in front of 11,387 fans. In stark contrast, our final home game of that season was a 6-2 loss to Eastbourne Borough, watched by 217 people!

"We finished rock bottom of the Conference South back then, but have subsequently celebrated two promotions, most notably when a league record 44 goals from David Tarpey helped us win the Conference South in 2016/17 - our first title for 55 years.

Who is the dangerman?

"Youth team graduate Josh Kelly seems - touch wood - to have finally shaken off various long-standing injury concerns and, this season, is starting to fulfil his immense promise on a more consistent basis.

"I understand that his Dad hails from Southend.

"As such, presumably, the former Northern Ireland U21 international forward will be particularly keen to impress against the Shrimpers!"

What is the team news?

"Recent defensive woes have coincided with Will De Havilland - our best centre half - missing games with a hamstring complaint.

"I don't expect him back for Tuesday night, which doesn't bode well from a Maidenhead perspective."

What's your prediction?

"This matchup has evoked memories of another potentially vital midweek six-pointer away from home when we beat Maidstone United in January 2019. It would be good for us to see a repeat scoreline: 4-2 to the Magpies - one red card apiece; Ferdinand, Acquah and Barratt among the goals - although that'd be a case of heart ruling head!

"Bearing in mind our wretched form and De Havilland's likely absence, I'd probably take a draw.