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Blue tinted optimist
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land

Freddy Eastwood equalled the Southend scoring in consecutive matches record by hitting the net for the 7th game running as this league 2 encounter hinged on two errors in the first half at the Hall on this Good Friday.

So often form goes out of the window over Easter and for 41 minutes Rochdale were the team who were more up for this match.  They were a yard quicker to the ball and won most 50/50 challenges as Blues found it hard to get going.  Both defences struggled to contain the attackers, with Holt and Richards causing problems for Barrett and Prior.  At the other end, however, Southend seemed content to catch Rochdale on the counter attack and looked menacing every time they went forward, with Matthew Gilks being the busier of the two keepers.

After 4 minutes, McCormack drilled wide of the post from 20 yards and 6 minutes later Eastwood forced the keeper to save from a similar distance.  Gray was teed up and hit a low shot which Gilks saved well down to his left, and Eastwood unleashed a thunderbolt that hit Gilks on the knees and rebounded to safety.  But by and large it was the visitors who called the tune as they had the lions share of possession without creating the same clear cut chances as the Blues.

Then, on 30 mins, the first of the game changing errors was made.  Under no pressure, Wilson underhit a back pass and Richards raced alone into the box.  Darryl came off his line to make a fine save from Richards shot, and Bertos sliced wide and over from the rebound.  Prior gave Wilson a roasting, who in turn gave Darryl an apology.

As the first half was petering out, Rochdale decided to pass it around a bit at the back and the second error was made.  One of their defenders played a misplaced pass into the path of Pettefer, who took it on and laid the ball through to Gray.  His shot was well saved by Gilks, but as the ball appeared to be going wide Freddy followed in and tapped home form just a few feet out.

Cue delerium on the terraces and relief on the pitch. This hopefully would settle a few nerves as Blues first half showing had been definitely edgy, but what was required was a more up-tempo performance in the scond half and more pressing of the ball to stop Rochdale playing.

Within 15 minutes of the restart, our prayers had been answered.  

During that period, Blues simply took Dale apart with precision passing and got their just reward.  A multi man passing move ended with Eastwood receiving the ball wide left, and performing a drag back that sold the defender and created yeards of space.  He took the ball on a couple of paces and unleashed another thunderbolt from 25 yards, this one bouncing off the keepers chest and to an unmarked (and possibly offside) Bentley who simply nodded the ball over Gilks and into the empty net.  Then, soon afterwards,  Gower slid the ball through to Eastwood in the right hand channel, and he took the ball well into the box before squaring for Wayne Gray to slot home. 3-0.

There wasn’t much more action really.  Rochdale had a succession of corners after the third goal had gone in but soon sacrificed Holt and Jones, their two “big” players, so appeared to give up the ghost.

Tilly brought Guttridge on for a disgusted looking Pettefer, Duds for Eastwood and Nicolau for Gower.  In truth, none of the subs made any real impact.  Guttridge needs to settle and having been impressed with his control and passing ability in the pre-match and half time warm ups, I was a little disappointed with his performance on the pitch.

But 3 points is 3 points and at this stage of the season the result matters most.  We have gone second, even if it is only temporary, and league 1 beckons.


Flahavan – 8 – kept Blues in the game with a crucial save and did everything asked of him.

Jupp – 7 – solid and hardly put a foot wrong.
Wilson – 6 – Nearly cost us with a lazy backpass.  Otherwise not too bad.
Barrett – 7 – Coped better as the game progressed but struggled to contain Holt.
Prior – 7 – Dominant in the air but made a couple of characteristic fly hacks and miskicks that we got away with

Gower – 6 – showed very brief glimpses of class.  Obviously trying to break his new white boots in before Cardiff.  Don’t bother Marky – they highlight the errors too much.  Great pass for the third goal though.
McCormack – 7 – Pretty good actually.  Some wayward passing but reminded me a lot of Peter Butler in his terrier like qualities.  Two games, two 3-0 victories.  He has filled Kevs shoes admirably and should probably start against Cambridge.
Bentley – 7 – Great stamina and got stronger as the game went on but still has the touch of a Rhino in galoshes.  Lost count of the number of times the ball ran away from him.  Got the all important 2nd goal.
Pettefer – 7 – Contributed well but seemed visibly annoyed at being subbed.

Gray – 8.5 – Fantastic partnership with freddy.  Phenomenal work rate and sponsors MOM.
Eastwood – 9 – MOM – scored 1 and made 2.  Rochdale couldn’t handle him.  His work rate is getting better and better.

Nicolau – 6
Guttridge – 6
Dudfield – 6

None really got that much into the game as Blues took their foot off the gas.

Ref – 7

Very good.  Hardly noticed him and that’s how it should be.