The Saddlers go in search of a first away win of 2017 at Roots Hall tomorrow. Just four points and two places separate the two sides, who both need three points to keep their play-off hopes alive. Phil Brown’s Shrimpers are seventh, a point behind sixth-placed Millwall, albeit having played a game more. The Essex club have been excellent at base, losing only one of their last 18 home games and scoring in all but one of their 22 league and cup matches. Walsall, who are unbeaten in four meetings with the Shrimpers, won last season’s corresponding fixture 2-0, thanks to goals from Tom Bradshaw and Sam Mantom.
Southend: 7th – P37 W15 D12 L10 F55 A45 PTS57
Walsall: 9th – P38 W13 D14 L11 F45 A46 PTS53
14th March – Coventry 0-2 Southend – League One
Early goals from Nile Ranger and Ryan Leonard earned Southend a comfortable win over bottom club Coventry. Ranger fired United ahead inside two minutes and Leonard added a second with a deflected free-kick. The Sky Blues rarely threatened as Phil Brown’s men won with ease.
14th March – Walsall 0-1 Fleetwood – League One
Our six-match winning home run came to an end after a narrow defeat to second-placed Fleetwood. Cian Bolger scored the game’s only goal with a 22nd-minute downward header from Cameron Brannagan’s corner. Town’s Elohor Godswill also headed against the bar while Neil Etheridge made a stunning save to deny Brannagan. Scott Laird and Erhun Oztumer went closest for Jon Whitney’s men.
Walsall wins: 23
26th November 2016 – Walsall 0-0 Southend – League One
Neil Etheridge made a string of fine saves as Walsall held in-form Southend to an entertaining goalless draw. The Philippines international thwarted Nile Ranger, Stephen McLaughlin and Anthony Wordsworth, while Andreas Makris and Scott Laird each rattled the woodwork for the Saddlers.
Southend Manager: Phil Brown
The third longest-serving manager in League One, the 57-year-old took charge of Southend in March 2013 and guided the Shrimpers to promotion from League Two via the play-offs in 2014/15. He managed Hull from 2006 to 2010, helping them reach the Premier League for the first time in their history in 2007/08. The former Hartlepool, Halifax, Bolton and Blackpool right-back has also managed Preston and Derby.
Southend Star Man: Anthony Wordsworth
The 28-year-old midfielder has scored 10 goals in 32 matches for the Shrimpers this season; only striker Simon Cox has managed more with 11. Born in Camden, Wordsworth came through Colchester’s youth ranks, making almost 200 appearances for the club, before moving to Ipswich in 2013. He left for Southend two years later via loan spells with Rotherham and Crawley.
Eoghan O’Connell is out with a hamstring injury. Reece Flanagan remains sidelined after dislocating his shoulder.
Jones has officiated two Walsall matches already this season: our 2-0 EFL Cup defeat to Yeovil in August and the 2-1 victory over Northampton last month. He has refereed 33 matches in 2016/17, brandishing 103 yellow cards and four red.
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