A lot was made of the state of the Blundell Park pitch going into this match, but it’s the state of our squad that continues to give us the most concern.
With no new additions in the week, Hurst had the same crop of crap to choose from, minus Morais, Clifton and Rose, who were all nursing injuries.
Spokes and Hewitt in the centre of midfield is about as inspiring as the Pyewipe estate on an overcast day — industrious, but nothing much to look at.
If naming Preston on the left of midfield was the best curveball Hurst could throw at Southend, it tells you all you need to know about our current predicament.
It’s unfair to say that Green can’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo when he’s not ever in the vicinity of a cow to even attempt it, but the bloke was desperate for something more than George ‘international’ Williams to work with.
However, there was some hope in seeing Big Jim Hanson on the bench. Sat next to him were five more attacking options, and Sam Russell.
This was a must-not-lose game — and we didn’t lose it, virtue of some stoic defending when needed and an excellent star-jump save from McKeown right at the death.
It may have actually done us good to weather some pressure in the first half. Southend had the better of it and found the side netting early on. The pressure brought a succession of corners, but Town always seemed to do just enough to clear their lines.
Given our propensity to concede early on in just about every game we play, there must have been a sense among the players that we’d emerged unscathed from a period when we usually go behind.
The match stats show that we had just one shot on target all match, and that came early on from a 20-yard Matt Green shot that drifted politely into the midriff of the Southend keeper.
Spokes blazed over a little later from a similar distance and I can’t really remember us doing anything else of note in the final third for the rest of the match.
At least we had a go in the second half against Cambridge. That said, Cambridge were 2-0 up and not interested in taking any risks whatsoever, so the comparison is as futile as the signing of Alhagi Touray Sisay.
You didn’t get a lot of excitement for your £10.
But if it’s unnecessary fouls you tune in for, then Town absolutely delivered. Elliott Hewitt was the pick of the bunch, scoring about seven our eight fouls alone, and somehow escaping a yellow card.
At one point in the second half, Southend won a free kick and got two of their own players booked. Can’t say I’ve seen that too often.
It was just a very bitty, very scrappy, very poor game of football. Southend created more and came closest to scoring, but it was as messy and untidy as a students’ communal kitchen at 2am following a big night out.
Hanson replaced Williams midway through the second half, which should’ve helped, but it didn’t. I like Big Jim but he jogged around like his spine was Royal Doulton china; too afraid to go near anyone for fear he’d break.
Sean “1 in 10” Scannell (seven times out of ten he’s injured; two times he plays and is anonymous; but he’ll play brilliantly once — as described by my Huddersfield-supporting work colleague) made a late appearance from the bench, but he looks like a man who has been told he’s made of wax and has just had his wick lit.
Jackson also got a bit of game time. While he brought with him energy that other subs lacked, his touch was heavy and his running off the ball was as wayward as John Fenty’s character judgments.
But let’s not rip into the team unnecessarily. We certainly kept us shape better than the two previous games; we earned a clean sheet against one of the division’s form teams and we remain in touch with the three to four teams immediately above us in the table.
It could’ve been worse. It’s not a motto to live by but we’re Grimsby Town, and we know what worse looks like.
Hurst has another week to work some magic in the transfer market, and players like Hanson and Scannell have more time to improve their fitness.
Morais looks like our best option to link midfield with attack, and he could be back in time for the trip to Scunny next weekend. Gibson and Jackson remain options off the bench while we wait for a saviour to be signed.