Despite the inclement weather, this is a game which everybody is desperate to get played.
Wrexham are naturally eager to avoid another postponement, having finally ended a seemingly interminably sequence of midweek matches. Phil Parkinson will want an opportunity to maintain the spectacular form his side showed last Tuesday too.
The 4-0 win at Dagenham, a venue which has been particularly unpleasant for us over the last two seasons, could be reasonably considered the best league performance of a stellar season. Ollie Palmer's two goals were supplemented by Jordan Tunnicliffe and Jacob Mendy in a dominant display which features a number of terrific individual performances. There were no obvious injuries coming out of the game, and Callum McFadzean returned to the pitch after a spell on the sidelines. Parkinson was even allowed the rare luxuries of giving skipper Luke Young a break and allowed Paul Mullin to put his feet up for the last 20 minutes.
Southend, meanwhile, will be eager to avoid a fixture backlog as nobody has played fewer games than them in the division. Their off-field problems this season have been well documented, and it's a remarkable tribute to players, staff and fans that they've been able to focus on the pitch once match day come around. They've somehow defied the odds to mount a serious play-off challenge - they currently lie in 8th place, but victory in their games in hand could propel them as high as 5th.
The Shrimpers have suffered a little wobble in form of late though, and Tuesday's home defeat to Chesterfield saw them slip out of the play-off places for the first time since October 25th. Their run-in doesn't look too threatening in terms of the league positions of their opponents, although only 4 of their remaining 12 games are at home, so it's imperative they start to build up a good head of steam as soon as possible.
Manager Kevin Maher has done a superb job, but is currently restricted by a transfer embargo which was initially imposed when HMRC filed a winding-up. That was finally settled at the start of this month, but the ban on signings remains as there remain other debtors who need to be satisfied.
It makes life difficult for Maher, who admitted to the Southend Echo: “I’ve got to plan with what we’ve got: if that changes then great.”
“The closer it gets to deadline day the pool we have to look at gets smaller. We’ve got players coming back from injuries and we’re working with what we’ve got. We’ll do the best we can and there’s a great team spirit in there and great players too. They want to the best the club and we’ll do our best.”
“It’s very tough but it’s been that way for a while. All the teams are trying to strengthen at the minute and we haven’t done that.”
“When we’ve got our full team out, we’re a handful for anyone"
-Kevin Maher, Southend United manager
With no draws since New Years Day, Southend's 2023 results have a rather binary look. Ther all-or-nothing sequence has seen them win 7 and lose 5, but 3 of those defeats came in their last 4 games. At least some of their inuured players returned on Tuesday: goalkeeper Steve Arnold was back after being absent since picking up an injury in August, and Harry Cardwell scored in his first game in three weeks.
Cardwell's season has been ruined by injuries, but his 6 goals this season came in his last 7 games, suggesting he'd be able to make a real impact with a bit of continuity.
His partnership with ex-Wrexham forward, Callum Powell, certainly has potential, as the Southend Echo explaining in an entertaining piece on their background last week. They revealed that both forwards were junior athletes, and as teenagers they each ran the 100 metres in under 11 seconds!
“One of our strongest attributes is our pace. We look to get down the sides of teams and on the defensive side the pressing side of things is good as well. We put a lot of teams under pressure….”
“I was sprinting from when I was 14 to 16. I ran for my county Humberside and competed in the English National levels in the 4x100m relay. We came sixth or seventh in the country which was pretty decent. But I got told I had to make a choice between football and sprinting so I chose football because it’s more interesting than running in a straight line!”
“On a personal note I was happy to get back out there and it was good to get on the score-sheet but it’s the result that matters. To come away with nothing was unfortunate and in the second half we came out of the blocks quite well.
“After their second goal went in we reacted well and had a lot of pressure on them but we weren’t our normal selves in the first half.
“It’s been a stop start season for myself and I want to get as many minutes as possible before it ends. I want to contribute in any way I can to help the team get more points.
“It’s been quite difficult for myself and I feel like I’ve been playing catch up since the start after missing pre-season, but hopefully I can kick on from Tuesday night and carry on.”
[Wrexham] are a good side and they’re going well. It’s a tough test for us but it’s one we’ll be more than ready for. We’ll attack our game plan and do the best we can to get a result.
-Harry Cardwell, Southend striker
“We’re focused on securing our play-off place and we’re in with a good chance of getting that. We’re still in and around it and we’ve got two games in hand on some of the sides above us.”
Powell returns to the Racecourse having made 26 appearances for us in the 2016-17 season, with 19 coming from the bench, and scoring his 2 goals at Maidstone United.
“Wrexham are a massive club: with the takeover they’ve had they’re a real force in this league and would be in the league above as well.
“We know what we’re up against and the challenge in hand but we’ve got to do all we can to get a result.”
“It’s a different club now in terms of the facilities they’ve got there and the team and squad. The fanbase was always superb though and they’ve always been well supported. In terms of that it’s quite similar but with the backing they’ve got now they’re a real force to be reckoned with.”
“I’ve watched [“Welcome to Wrexham”] with Noor Husin, it’s quite interesting and a real eye opener! It’s a tight-knit group there but I think the fans deserve it and they’re a great team this season.”
LAST TIME WE MET
17/9/2022 Southend United 0 Wrexham 0
Southend C Andeng-Ndi, N Ralph, K Lopata, O Kensdale, G Scott-Morriss, S Hobson, M Dackers, C Miley, N Husin (C Wreh, 76), J Hyde (W Fonguck, 76), D Mooney (J Bridge, 89)
Subs not used: C Powell, J Demetriou
Wrexham M Howard, A Hayden, J Davies, B Tozer, M Cleworth, J Jones (E Lee, 68), A Forde, L Young, J Mendy, P Mullin, O Palmer
Subs not used: R Watson, S Dalby, J Tunnicliffe, C McFadzean
Referee: Alan Dale Attendance: 6266
HEAD TO HEAD
We’ve faced The Shrimpers three times since they dropped into the National League, and each match has been a tight affair. We’ve drawn twice at Roots Hall, and when we met at The Racecourse last April it took an Ollie Palmer goal just after the break to separate the sides.
We’ve tended to do well at home to Southend, winning 12 and losing 2 of our 21 previous clashes. Overall, we’ve had the upper hand over them recently, losing just one of our last 13 encounters.
Our most recent home loss against United came in 1984, when they came through for a 2-1 win despite an equaliser by Paul Comstive, as Billy Killock got a last minute winner.
Our biggest win over United was a 5-1 triumph in October 1873. Brian Tinnion scored two, an own goal increased our advantage and second half strikes from Dave Smallman and Arfon Griffiths, who scored from the spot, completed the rout.
We also enjoyed a 4-0 win in April 1987 which illustrated the value of patience: the game was goalless 11 minutes into the second haf, but the fllodgates then opened with Steve Charles and Jim Steel each scoring two in a crazy 14-minute spell! Sadly, only 935 fans witnessed the match, played on a Thursday night as we battled against fixture congestion. Not only is that the smallest attendance for a game between these two sides, but it's also the 3rd-lowest crowd to watch a Football League game at The Racecourse.
Phil Parkinson's 100th game as Wrexham manager.
Paul Mullin's 75th Wrexham league game.
Sam Dalby's 125th career appearance.
Max Cleworth’s 50th league game for Wrexham.