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Blue tinted optimist
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land
Southend blasted Brentford apart in front of over 10,000 fans at Roots Hall to storm back to the top of league one.

In the past, Blues have normally suffered stage fright on such occasions but it became evident as soon as the players ran out onto the pitch that they were pumped up for this one.

After a quiet start Southend began to take a grip on the game.  Bees manager Martin "Mad Dog" Allen looked as though he was going to give himself a seizure and was unbelievably animated, choosing at one point to vent his anger almost totally for what seemed about 5 minutes on promising Bees forward DJ Campbell.

The deadlock was broken on 19 minutes after a rehearsed set piece routine paid off and home debutant Efe Sodje nodded the ball home via his navy and white bandana.

Southend contained Brentford with comparitive ease and nearly doubled the lead when Gower played a pass over the top for Freddy to run clear but he poked his effort just wide with only the keeper to beat.  However, a few minutes later Eastwood beat 2 defenders, took the ball into the right hand side of the box and unselfishly squared for Gower who shot past the keeper.

Sodje cleared a Campbell effort off the line before Southend produced the move of the match at the end of the half which nearly produced a match killing 3rd goal.  Gower, Bentley Maher and Gray all combined but the final effort was blocked.

Allen had the Brentford players out early for the second half  in an effort to shame them into action but they started with a whimper and Blues took up where they left off.   As the hour mark approached, another set piece nearly came off as Grays mish!t shot hit the bar and in the ensuing scramble Bentley bundled the ball in but the effort was ruled out for a handball by Sodje.

Just 3 minutes later though the crucial 3rd goal came as Barrett stooped to nod home for his first of the season.

From the kick off Maher won the ball before it had even left the centre circle and set Gower away down the right. His cross was cleared to a defender who struggled to keep the ball in play in the South West corner and the ball clearly crossed the line but for some reason the linesman didn't give it and the ball was cleared upfield.  Sodje squared the ball to Barrett whose first touch was too strong and Brentford won the ball back. A ball was played into space for Campbell to run onto and he hit a superb shot into the far corner.

For 10 minutes Brentford had the upper hand.  Frampton hit the bar with a header and the otherwise totally useless Owusu started to come into the game (am I glad he chose not to come here!).  Prior went off with what looked a very nasty injury and with 12 minutes left his replacement Wilson stormed down the left into the box  and received Gowers perfectly weighted pass to notch his first ever career goal.

Game over. Hutchinson became the 3rd opponenet is as many games to leave the Roots Hall pitch for an early bath after a running spat with Guttridge gave him his second booking in as many minutes.  

In short, this was the most complete display of the season and there did not seem to be one chink in the armour.  In my opinion the crucial element was the awesome partnership of Maher and Guttridge who completely ran the midfield.  Add to that the strength of Bentley and the return to form (and fitness) of the influential Gower and if they keep this up Blues will be in the Championship come August.


Flahavan - 8 - A supreme performance with excellent handling.  No chance for the goal.

Jupp - 7 - Got booked for a late challenge in the first half but was otherwise solid.  In truth, he wasn't tested much.
Prior - 7 - Really pumped up and strong and formed good partnership with Sodje.  Nasty injury that may rule him out for a while.
Sodje- 8 - Capped home debut with a goal.  Not as good in the air as perhaps he should be but very solid and seemed to give some added strength to the defence.  Sponsors MOM - predictably.
Barrett - 8 - Looked good as left back when he had Brooker in his pocket and also as centre half.  Notched first goal of season.

Gower - 8.5 - His best display by a mile.  Still prone to silly errors but very creative and had a hand in all the goals.
Maher - 9 - Probably the best display I've seen him put in.  He was awesome and only made 2 wayward passes in the whole match.  A superb performance.
Guttridge - 9.1 - MOM.  Shaded the MOM award from Maher because he didn't make 2 wayward passes.  Any scouts watching will be reporting back to their clubs and expect a big offer before the end of January.  I hope he stays because he was all over the place today.
Bentley - 8 - The final piece of the midfield jigsaw.  Strength, pace power and whilst not having as much influence on the game as the other 3 his contribution can't be underestimated.

Gray - 8 - Brentford struggled to cope with him all game and his work rate and presence took the attention of the defenders and allowed the rest of the team the space they had.
Eastwood - 7 - Ditto Gray, but should have scored in the first half.

Subs -

Wilson - 7 - Solid and got his first ever goal.
Goater - 6 - Not really on long enough to do anything.
Ademeno - 6 - Good to see him get a few minutes.  Had one effort but scuffed it wide.

The officals - 7.

Ref not bad at all.  Lino in front of the West in the second half gave us nothing and made some strange decisions, although personally I think the disallowed goal was correct.