The EFL League One match coming up this Saturday, 28 September 2019, between Southend United F.C. and Accrington Stanley F.C. will take place at Roots Hall in Southend-on-sea, Essex, England. After an extremely slow start, Accy has shown a marked improvement in form in recent weeks. However, the results have not been there thus far, and lost points from a winning position, was the story again in their last match against Blackpool F.C.. (This refers to a game you were leading, but ultimately finished with less than 3 points.) In fact, this was the 3rd consecutive game in which they had scored first, but failed to win. The have a 0-2-1 record over that time with draws against Blackpool and Wycombe Wanderers F.C. and a loss to Sunderland A.F.C.. They also had a game earlier in the season against Shrewsbury Town F.C. where they lead 2-0 as late as the 77th minute, but ultimately lost 3-2. An inability to close out games has lead to a dire situation that sees The Reds with just 1 win through their first 9 matches. However, with just 1 loss over their past 5, it appears that John Coleman's side it beginning to round into form, and could surprise quite a few people as the season goes on.
For The Shrimpers it has been a season that thus far finds the as Southend not only by name, but also place in the table. Not including Bolton Wanderers F.C., a team that started the season with a 12 point deduction and has at times been forced to playing their youth team due to financial issues, Southend and AFC Wimbledon have been far and away the worst sides in League One this season. Like Accrington, they have just 1 win through their first 9 matches, but with a -13 goal differential, compared with -6 for Accy, things have been much more difficult in Essex thus far. Both clubs have put the onion in the bag 11 times on offense this season, but the difference has been on the defensive end of things. Southend has been absolutely atrocious in allowing 24 goals, and is equal to Bolton's league worst total conceded. That works out to 2.67 goals allowed per match, which is nearly a goal more per match than Accrington's 17 allowed through 9 game (1.88 per match).
Things have not gone completely south for The Seasiders though, as they did pick up their first win of the season in their most recent match against MK Dons last Saturday. The win makes them 1-1-1 over their past 3 matches, which comes after they lost their first 6 matches of the season. Not only did they beat The Dons, but they also registered their first clean sheet of the season with the 1-0 win. Prior to that they had not allowed less than 2 goals in any game since a 1-0 loss to Coventry City F.C. on opening day 3 August 2019. Southend currently sits on 4 points, and can pull level with Stanley at 7 points with a victory, although Accrington would likely still hold the tie-breaker on goal difference. For Stanley, a victory would mean putting a more comfortable distance between themselves and Southend who are currently the first team on the wrong side of the relegation line. It is fair to say that both of these teams probably marked this match as one that their respective club needed to see points out of when the season schedule came out, and it looks even more that way today.
Southend United vs Accrington Stanley Vital Information
This match can be viewed on Accrington Stanley iFollow or in the United States, and in the UK at 10:00 AM U.S. ET/3:00 PM GMT.
Referee appointments have Charles Breakspear as the referee, with assistants Gregory Read and Aaron Farmer, and the fourth official Marc Wilson.
Both clubs are free of suspensions, but each is suffering from a key injury. For Southend, defender John White will be out after breaking his arm against MK Dons, while Accrington's striker Colby Bishop is likely to miss a second consecutive week after suffering a late injury against Wycombe. Accrington will however have a front line player return from injury in Offrande Zanzala, whom it has been confirmed will be available on Saturday.
This will be the 13th meeting all time between Accrington Stanley F.C. and Southend United. In the previous 12 meetings, Southend has won 4 times, Accrington has won 3 times, and there has been 5 draws. The most recent meeting between them was a 1-1 draw at WHAM Stadium in Accrington on 23 February 2019. The most recent match at Roots Hall was a 3-0 win by The Shrimpers on 15 December 2018. Accrington's last win in the series came in the form of a 2-1 victory on Valentine's Day 14 February 2015 at Southend, as EFL League Two opponents.
Five Points That Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
At the heart of Southend's struggles this season has been their inability to keep the other team off the scoreboard. In examining their struggles there is not need to look much further that right in front of their net. In the world of goalkeeping, a save percentage of 70% is generally looked as at elite, while most goalies fall somewhere in the 60-70% range. Looking at the keepers for Southend, Mark Oxley has started 6 matches so far for them. He kept the clean sheet mentioned above against MK Dons, and that 4 save effort raised him close to respectability at 58.8%. However, prior to that he had allowed 14 goals and saved just 16 in his first 5 starts. Of course if you are to do the math and see that works out to 6 on target shots against per match that he faced in those contests, certainly there are issues in front of him. While Oxley has been merely below average in his 6 starts, their other goalkeeper Nathan Bishop has been downright atrocious in his 3 starts. In those appearances he has faced 14 shots on target, allowing 10 goals, and saving just 4 of them. That works out to a 28.6% save percentage, which is closer to what most keepers should expect to average on penalty kicks, not overall.
In front of the keepers it appears that Southend lacks both experience and cohesiveness on the backline. Of the guys getting a majority of the playing time on defense, only Elvis Bwomono was a regular starter for them last year. He is in his 3rd year with the club, but is just 20-years-old. Harry Lenon at 24-years-old has a bit more experience, and is in his second year with the club. However, the 8 starts he has made this season, are already 1 more than the 7 he made last year. He did start 16 games for Charlton Athletic F.C. in the EFL Championship in 2015-16, but that is also the most appearances he has ever made in a single season. Nathan Ralph has a good bit of experience, and at 26-years-old should be in his prime. However, his best seasons have come in the National League, while playing for teams that finished near the bottom of the table. He was a regular starter for Dundee F.C., who finished 12th in the Scottish Premiership last year. Overall, his resume makes me think he is playing a tier over his head. At 34-years-old Australian Mark Milligan has loads of experience, but most of it is in the A-League. Last year he also played in Scotland, for 5th place Hibernian F.C., but this is first time playing in England. All of this adds up to a lot of unknown for the unit, and so far the results haven't been good. Ultimately, whether Southend is playing in League One of League Two next season will hinge on whether or not this mishmash of parts can mold into a cohesive unit as the season wears on.
The struggling defense of Southend could be just what the doctored ordered for the equally struggling Accrington offense. Accy has managed to find the back of the net just one time in each of their past 3 matches, and last week against Blackpool that only came via an own goal by Blackpool defender Curtis Tilt. Considering all of the different factors in play, it is unsurprising that Accrington has been inconsistent on offense this season. The unit is not only fully rebuilt, but rebuilt with mostly young players, many of whom didn't join the club until after the season had already started. Add injuries to the mix, and 11 goals through 9 matches is where you end up. As mentioned above, Zanzala, one of the few front line players who isn't new to the club this season is expected back. He is a gifted player, but at 22-years-old is still inexperienced and is a guy who has been used as an impact player in his career for the most part. Colby Bishop started the first 8 matches of the season, and played well in scoring 3 goals and consistently putting himself into position to make plays. However, he also missed a number of high percentage opportunities, and a penalty kick, and could easily have 6 goals or more. Unfortunately he is looking at missing his second match in-a-row on Saturday. Dion Charles is tied for the team lead in scoring with Bishop at 3. Charles looks like he is a guy more than capable of finding the back of the net, but he is a guy who didn't even join the club until after the second match of the season. Connor Simpson made his first start of the season last week, but just didn't look like he was quite comfortable in the system yet. Courtney Baker-Richardson is another newcomer who showed early promise, but he went on the shelf with a lengthy hamstring injury after making just 2 appearances. Late last week veteran midfielder Sean McConville was even forced to play out of position up front due to a lack of bodies. Word has it that this week we will see the pair of Charles and Zanzala up top.
As inconsistent as things have been up front for Accrington, they could not be more consistent on the back. So far this season Ross Sykes and Sam Finley have both played every minute of every match. Not far behind are Mark Hughes, who has played all but 28 minutes this year, and Callum Johnson, who has played all but 31 minutes so far. Only the arrival of talented loanee Jerome Opoku has shaken things up, as Coleman has had to make an adjustment to his formation due to the need to make playing time for the talented youngster. Add to that the fact that our recent guest, Mr. Excitement Dimitar Evtimov gives Accrington an every game starter who is committed to being the club's long term goalkeeper, and you have a cohesiveness that is hard to achieve at this level where many players are on 1 and 2-year-contracts. As Evtimov pointed out on our show last week, they have yet to keep a clean sheet yet, but on the whole the unit has kept them in games in spite of the offensive struggles. Accrington is a team that will need to start scoring goals if they want to separate themselves from the relegation battle, but ultimately it is the defensive unit that is the backbone of the squad.
Looking at the betting lines sees a turn of tables from recent weeks, that being that this time around Accy is favored. In fact a bet on Southend to win will pay out at nearly 2 to 1 as they are coming off the board at 19/10 as of the writing of this article. That would be a return of 29 on a 10 quid bet, where Accy is currently at 5/4. This is still better than even money, but the return would be just 22.50 on a 10 quid bet. A draw is coming off at 12/5 or a return of 34 on a 10 quid bet. One thing I have noticed is that the line has moved slightly on the draw in the past 24 hours. When I took a look at it early it was paying at 23/10 (an odd line to begin with) and has since moved to 12/5 or essentially 24/10. In other words a bet on a draw will pay you 1 quid more than it would have a few hours ago. All of this tells me 2 things. The first is that the bookmakers believe Accrington is a decidedly superior club to Southend in making them favorites on the road. However, the fact that they are adjusting the line on the draw tells me that they have some uncertainty of who is going to win, thus they want to take in money on draw in the event they have to pay out on a Southend win. Wise guys call this a stay away game.
Southend United vs Accrington Stanley Prediction
One thing I like to talk about often is when a team just needs to win a game. Not to say both of these teams don't need to win this game, but Southend won last week. On the other hand Accrington has scored first in each of the past 3 matches, and come away from those with only 2 points. In other words, at this exact moment Accrington needs this game more. Add to that the fact that they are ultimately the better team, and I think the go down to Essex, and come home to Lancashire with a win on Saturday. John Coleman has been opening things up more and more each week in an effort to jump start Accy's offense. This week I think it will be an association football version of what Bill Simmons refers to as a kitchen sink game. I expect this to be an extremely exciting game to watch with end to end action for 90 minutes. When this style is played its inevitable that goals will be conceded. I think tomorrow Coley will go all in that his guys can outshoot their guys in an all out gun fight.
Prediction: Accrington Stanley - 4 Southend United - 2