Southend United v Boreham Wood
Tuesday 20th December 2022, 7.45pm
Roots Hall, Isuzu FA Trophy Third Round

The Wood will be hoping to finally follow up victory over Oldham Athletic with a chance to progress into the FA Trophy Fourth Round, as weather conditions has seen the last three games postponed resulting in the trip to Roots Hall taking place on Tuesday night.


Southend United will be looking for an improvement on their first FA Trophy campaign, which ended at the Fourth Round stage at the hands of Dagenham & Redbridge last season. The Shrimpers had never taken part in the competition before, but a century in the Football League was brought to a close when they finished 23rdin League Two and they subsequently took on National League football for the first time in their history. The return of former captain Kevin Maher as head coach sparked a sense of balance for the Shrimpers after taking over from Phil Brown who had left the club one place above the relegation zone, and he guided them to a comfortable 13th place finish amid a whole host of financial difficulties. The Essex-based outfit have begun the current campaign in much better shape with the aim of returning to the Football League after a brief period away. They can boast one of the best defences in the division with only title hopefuls Wrexham conceding less goals than Maher’s men so far this season, while top scorer Callum Powell has contributed seven goals at the other end to their total of 30 and has helped the Shrimpers sit sixth place after 22 games.


Southend United 2-2 Altrincham
Saturday 3rd December 2022
Vanarama National League

The National League’s early kick-off saw Southend United held to a 2-2 draw by Altrincham, with the Shrimpers unable to return to winning ways after two successive defeats.

It was the hosts who threatened early on and could have taken the lead inside five minutes when Chris Wreh’s effort glanced off the post, and they continued to put the pressure with Wesley Fonguck having three attempts in quick succession. He first combined with former Alty man Dan Mooney to have an initial blocked before seeing the follow-up saved, moments before testing Ollie Byrne again with a tame effort. Nathan Ralph gifted Altrincham their first opportunity when he was dispossessed in his own half, but almost made up for his error when he met Jack Bridge’s corner but he couldn’t divert his header on target. The hosts’ pressure finally paid off though as Bridge sent a calmly struck into the bottom corner from six yards after seeing his initial effort blocked, but their lead would last less than ten minutes with Ryan Colclough firing home the equaliser after Elliot Newby’s effort cannoned off the crossbar following a counter attack. The Shrimpers hit back and found a fast response though with Wreh restoring their lead with another rebound after Shaun Hobson’s shot was well saved, sending the hosts into the break ahead.

Wreh looked to add to his goal tally in the second half as he tested Byrne early on, with Fonguck forcing him into another save with a well-struck half-volley. The Robins were gifted an equaliser just before the hour-mark though despite the hosts’ control, with a mix-up between Kacper Łopata and Blondy Nna Noukeu on the edge of the Blues’ box leaving Newby with an unmissable opportunity which he gratefully accepted. The visitors continued to push forward as they looked for a shock winner, with Connor Jennings twice going close as Alty grew into the game, and Colclough would later have two good opportunities himself to add to his goal tally as he was twice denied by Nna Noukeu. The Shrimpers piled men forward as the game reached its climax with Ralph seeing a volley float over the crossbar, but five minutes of added time wasn’t enough to see them snatch the victory as it ended in a well-fought stalemate.


Altrincham (A) D2-2
Aldershot Town (A) L2-0
Gateshead (A) L3-1
Dorking Wanderers (H) W2-0
Notts County (A) D2-2
Barnet (A) W0-3

The Shrimpers have largely been in good form this season with nine wins, seven draws and six defeats seeing them enjoy a spell of 11 games unbeaten between September and November. Recently however, they have struggled to match that great run and are currently without a win in their last three games, after defeat at Gateshead brought their unbeaten streak to an end. Maher’s men were able to bounce back from being eliminated from the FA Cup with four successive wins which ended with a comfortable victory over Barnet, but this was followed up with a draw against Notts County as their form began to slide. Dorking Wanderers were next to be overcome as first half goals from Jack Bridge and Shaun Hobson saw them come on top at Roots Hall, but three second half goals from Kamil Conteh, Adam Campbell and Conor Carty saw the Shrimpers lose in the league for the first time since September. They were unable to bounce back with a 2-0 loss to Aldershot Town rounding off November, and they kicked off December with a draw against Altrincham as they twice threw away leads, coming into Saturday’s fixture in indifferent form.


A Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate, Kevin Maher enjoyed a 20-year playing career in which he made a name for himself at Southend United, where he featured more than 400 times and captained the club to promotion twice, from League Two to the Championship, in successive seasons. After transitioning into coaching following retirement, his first managerial role came briefly as head coach of Chelmsford City, before returning to Roots Hall as a youth coach. Maher would leave his position at Southend in 2019 to become Bristol Rovers first team coach before eventually being placed in temporary charge, but he returned to Southend once again in October 2021 but as head coach, replacing the outgoing Phil Brown who was unable to improve the Shrimpers’ spirits. Maher has enjoyed a better time of it though and after a difficult start to his time in the Roots Hall hotseat, guided the club to a comfortable 13th place finish last time out. Additionally, with 24 wins from 60 games at Southend, he can boast a 40% win ratio since his arrival.


After joining Southend United at the age of nine, Jack Bridge signed his first professional contract in 2014 and moved out on loan to gain experience where he turned out for Soham Town Rangers and Chelmsford City. He would later make his debut for the Shrimpers upon his return in 2016, and after signing a two-year contract extension went on to play a handful of times for the club. He would depart Roots Hall in January 2018 and enjoyed stints at Northampton Town, Carlisle United, Concord Rangers and Bromley, helping clinch a play-off place with the latter in 2020/21 where they fell short to eventual winners Hartlepool United. This paved the way for a return to his hometown club at the end of the season though, and he has now gone on to play a total of 57 times for the Shrimpers.


Southend United 0-1 Boreham Wood
Saturday 6th August 2022
Vanarama National League

The Wood kicked off the 2022/23 campaign with a hard-earned victory as Danny Newton’s debut goal sealed the three points on opening day, despite two second half red cards to Lee Ndlovu and Dion Kelly-Evans.

A positive start from the hosts saw them produce the first opening of the match after six minutes with Dan Mooney sending a curling effort over the crossbar, but chances would quickly dry up despite Southend looking the brighter of the two sides. It was the Wood who created the next opportunity though when a quick free kick from Zak Brunt resulted in a chance for Ndlovu which went amiss, but the visitors grew into the game and began to take control of proceedings, breaking the deadlock shortly before the half-hour mark. An excellent through ball from the middle of the pitch allowed Kelly-Evans to cause problems on the right-hand side before picking out Newton in acres of space in the middle, who tapped home on the slide to give them the lead. They later saw another golden opportunity go amiss on the stroke of half time after some good work from, but were able to go into the break ahead nonetheless.

The second half began in a similar vein to the first as Southend looked to find an equaliser, and their determination saw them have the first chance after the break, falling to substitute Callum Powell who struck a free kick inches wide of Nathan Ashmore’s near post. A handful of half chances for Tom Clifford followed before Powell forced Ashmore into a crucial outstretched save in their search for a leveller, and he later made another wonderful stop to deny Chris Wreh from point blank range. The hosts were seemingly gifted a route back into the game moments later when the Wood went down to ten men after Ndlovu saw red for violent conduct, restoring faith in the home crowd who roared their team on, but Ashmore was on hand yet again to deny Cav Miley on the edge of the box before Wreh was once again unable to find a way through. Southend continued to dominate and were handed another lifeline when Kelly-Evans was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge on Clifford, but they were unable to take advantage with the Wood remaining strong to hold out for the three points.


A 15-year and counting playing career for Steve Arnold has seen the 33-year old turn out for 13 different clubs, making more than 230 career appearance. It all started at Meadow Park for the now experienced stopper though, spending time in the club’s youth team between 2004 and 2005 before moving a brief stint at Arsenal preceded a move to Norwich City, where he would eventually rise through the ranks. He has managed to achieve plenty of success throughout the divisions in his career, including helping Northampton Town earn promotion in his first season at the Sixfields Stadium, playing in the 2020 League Two play-off final. He has also achieved individual success, being voted Player of the Season at Hayes & Yeading United in 2011/12 and at Southend United in 2021/22, and although he only spent a small amount of time in Hertfordshire, he will still look back on his time with the Wood as the opportunity which began it all.IN FOCUS:


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