The Opposition View: Southend United

Last updated : 23 January 2015 By Jim Bonner
Given how successful your season has been so far, how disappointed would you be if Southend failed to win promotion this time?
I would be disappointed but not at all surprised! We have a great talent of getting into the play-offs and bottling it but so far, so good this season. We're hanging around the play-off places and you never know if we time it right and have a surge towards the end of the season we could potentially aim for an automatic spot, but maybe that is wishful thinking.
I would love to go up via another play-off final win like a few years ago and I believe we have a stronger squad than last year so if we can stay where we are in the league you never know... but equally I dont want to count our chickens as I have witnessed us fall at the last hurdle a fair few times!
Has ex-Pompey loanee Conor Clifford made a good impression on you this season?
Unfortunately he hasn't been able to hold down his place in the side with others coming in and having more of an impact such as Gary Deegan. He has recently been transfer listed by Phil Brown but I am unsure as to whether there has been any interest. On the list he is certainly the most notable player.
Who are the key men in this current Southend side?
Daniel Bentley in goal who has been attracting a fair bit of speculation from other clubs has won a few points for the Shrimpers on his own with some outstanding saves including a last minute one-on-one last weekend to cling on to three points.
David Worrall has probably been our biggest attacking threat in the last couple of months and without him we may well have been struggling. Coker has also been a great help in attack with him being able to whip some dangerous crosses in from left back.
What are your team's biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Our main weakness lately has been the worrying lack of goals having scored just five in the last six games but three of those came last weekend! We've recently signed two loan strikers who looked fairly promising last weekend with Piggott grabbing his first Blues goal, so hopefully that will help end the drought.
Our biggest strength is probably the work ethic in the team which I believe has been key to our fairly robust defence. There are usually a couple of silly mistakes within our defence but with four clean sheets in the last six games we haven't exactly been leaky. The last couple of games have seen a centre back pairing of Thompson (who can make some mistakes) and Binnom-Williams who is not a natural centre back. Daniel Bentley in goal as mentioned above has also contributed heavily.
Much has been made of the poor state of the pitch at Fratton Park this week. Will that play to Southend's advantage?
I will be honest and say I was unaware of the poor state at Fratton Park. I'm not sure that will necessarily play to our advantage unfortunately, unless Phil Brown tailors his team to the conditions. Two of our three goals at the weekend came from headers and Big Bad Barry Corr might be suited to such a game so you never know... 
Given the respective form of both teams, surely you will be expecting a Shrimpers win on Saturday?
I think it's fair to say that Southend should be hopeful of capitalising on Pompeys recent form however I am hesitant to say that we expect a win and so I really wouldn't be surprised if we walked away with a draw. Fratton Park is obviously quite an intimidating ground and hopefully the players will rise to the occasion. 
Predict outcome of the match.
We've both been quite good at getting draws recently (us having four draws in the last six games) so I'll go for a 1-1 draw.