By Ansar Jawed
It is ironic to realise that ‘dead ball delivery’, is the same as what’s called, ‘a set piece’. When a team is on the whole lacking in confidence, communication or is arrogantly careless, it gets undone during these set pieces.
Without rubbing it in, as I know well enough how it feels to be on the receiving end. It happened to Southend United in front of 17,000 pair of eyes last month not once but twice. The two said goals were posted in a chalk cheese fashion by the host team which is as we know usually shy of hitting the net in any outing.
The first was a free kick from McMahan, a curling Waseem Akram like swinger towards the top left corner from around 25 yards, well out of the reach of the despairing air born keeper.
The other came in the second half in the 75th minute, again a McMahan delivery from a corner which found Hanson’s head and bounced off the post and then off the limbs of one or two of the players and finally dribbled into the goalmouth.
It’s a small world; they say but don’t let that warm your hearts about how common human or playing conditions are between us and them. There are not so many. They were not here to lose; Phil, their manager, neither their team nor their fans would love to stay above us in the table and I bet in their geographical positions as well.
The temperature, a couple of degrees above Pennine’s Wuthering heights, no doubt, is enough to make any of the visiting fans wish they were back in in the 42 square kilometres of the North side of the Thames estuary instead of being here, getting poked by the settling icy particles of the numbing Northern air.
As similarities go, apart from having a newspaper also called the, ’Echo’ they have a similar naming Gaffer, ironically called Phil as well, Phil Brown. He most certainly is a familiar figure, who can be frequently heard at 5 Alive and seen as a footy expert on our screens. To his credit you may also remember that he was the first manager who led Hull City to their first flight to the top division in their 104- year history.
Bradford was where the two Phil’s locked horns and produced a match worth getting out and sitting in the gigantic fridge avoiding, living with an unhealthy premiership viewing addictions.
Southend played threateningly and with more fluidity than Bradford in the first half to start with but as the evening wore on Bantams gained rhythm and rhyme. Nearly half way in the first half they were asking questions and having the lion’s share of the possession with an all-important first goal.
Bantams kick started the second half but clearly united had been given their orders to pull no punches and pull one back, they were showing renewed vigour and throwing the spanner in the works. Second goal is always a decider and United were hell-bent on going for it.
James Hanson is a big lad and gets roughed up from all quarters. He might not come across as having the grace of an Arab through bread, but he is an important central rock solid figure of this team. He has grown tall in stature and confidence especially with his own two goal contribution in the historic 4-0 win at the Posh of the previous match. It therefore is befitting for James to have had the last say.
The team seems to have jelled at the right time ready for the big push. In PP we trust; to set records and make histories at this club. Who knows what may surprise us around the corner, but we are now well set up for the fight, for a chance, hope and possibilities. We might be cold but are definitely looking up.