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Blue tinted optimist
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land
2005 came to an end at the Hall with a game against Bournemouth, who's first match in 8 days should have given them a distinct fitness advantage over Blues injury hit squad.

For the first 20 minutes it showed as well, with Blues midfield looking overrun and Bournemouths full backs staying wide to give them extra width and it seemed as though there were more of them than us.

Several times Blues players believed they had more time than they actually did and ended up hurriedly passing the ball or getting caught in possession. After 7 minutes James Hayter nearly broke the deadlock when he got in between Jupp and Prior, before chesting the ball down 6 yards out and inexplicably shooting wide of the target with only Flahavan to beat.

Southend struggled to make any real impression although Wayne Gray was giving the defenders a run for their money. However, on 18 minutes the Cherries keeper lazily passed the ball out to his defenders and Freddy was able to intercept before jinking his way past 2 players and shooting low against the post with the keeper beaten.

On 25 minutes a decent move by Blues saw the ball played over the top to Gray, who gave his marker a yard start but still outpaced him and got to the ball first. As he raced into the box the defender brought him down and started walking before the ref even produced the red card. There was no complaint and Gray sent the keeper the wrong way to put Southend 1-0 up.

After this Bournemouth heads dropped and Blues bossed the rest of the half with Flahavan reduced to role of spectator. Some good approach work promised much but sometimes the final ball in was not quite good enough. Freddy had another shot parried away by the keeper and the ball fell to Gray who leapt to try and head the ball over the stranded custodian and into the net, but the ball went fractionally over the bar.

In the second half Bournemouth were much, much faster out of the blocks and it was impossible to determine who had the 10 men. Southend were stretched all over the park and the fitness levels of the visitors was more evident. Bentley was brought on for a shattered Cole before an hour had elapsed and his stamina and determination was a welcome injection of energy into the Blues flagging midfield.

Southend countered and Freddy raced clear into the box from wide on the right having dispossessed the Bournemouth left back but shot wide from an incredibly acute angle.

Flahavan was forced to make 3 or 4 fine saves low down as the visitors strove for an equaliser and it was no surpise when , on 70 minutes, Foley jinked into the box and shot into the corner of the net past Flahavan's despairing dive. In fairness it was no more than the visitors deserved.

At this stage a draw was very much the best result that looked to be on the cards as Eastwood made way for Lawson. Within a minute a superb cross found Lawsons head but he put the ball wide when really he should have at least hit the target.

Barrett had a couple of headers as well from set pieces and Bentley nearly got on the end of a defence splitting passes but Bournemouth had now settled for the point and were making it very difficult for Blues.

Then, on 78 minutes, the ball came out to Guttridge, 25 yards out, having been cleared by the defence. He feigned to shoot with his right, dragged it onto his left and unleashed an absolute thunderbolt into the top left hand corner. Surely a contender for Goal of the season!

Southend played keep ball for a lot of the remaining 12 minutes and held on for a good win in a very entertaining match. Because of other results they have ended the year in 2nd place on goal difference and are only 6 points away from safety. Now with 2 straight wins and unbeaten in 6 matches, the rot seems to have been well and truly stopped.

Happy New Year to all players, officials and zoners, and may 2006 be as successful and memorable as 2005.


Flahavan - 8 - Made several decent saves and his distribution today was excellent. High on confidence and it shows.

Jupp - 7 - After a slow start was very solid and made some decent interceptions, but was guilty of some wayward passing at times (as was most!)
Wilson - 7 - Similar to Jupp. Gave good support to Cole in first half.
Barrett - 8 - Excellent performance from Barrett, much more like last season.
Prior - 7.5 - Dominant in the air and didn't try to dribble out of defence.

Gower - 7 - Linked up pretty well with Jupp although was guilty of some wayward distribution (more than most).
Maher - 7 - Formed a solid partnership with Guttridge. Shared the set pieces with Gower, which was good to see. Some excellent breaking up of Bournemouth attacks.
Guttridge - 8.5 - MOM. Capped a fine display with a super winning goal. Was a little wayward with passes at times but is extremely strong in the middle.
Cole - 6.5 - He didn't do much wrong but was clearly knackered after 30 minutes. I have my doubts as to whether he can attain the fitness levels required to make it at pro level. Gave the defenders plenty to think about.

Eastwood - 7.5 - No goal but hit the woodwork. Again, the work rate was improved and Bournemouth struggled to contain him at times,
Gray - 8 - Excellent work rate, great penalty, and again the defence struggled to contain him.

Subs -

Bentley - 8 - Exactly what I had been hoping for from him. He really bolstered the team when he came on and should start against Blackpool.
Lawson - 6 - Should have done better with a header and for me just doesn't look right. It's difficult to see him posing a meaningful threat at the moment.
Pettefer - 6 - Didn't get involved that much.

Officials - 7 - Pretty good I thought. The ref played advantage where he could and wasn't afraid to bring the play back.