Blues All Square At The Seaside
A makeshift Blues outfit retained their unbeaten pre-season games with this draw against a lively Southend Manor writes The Mariner.
Blues once again fielded a side made up of a mixture of first team,youth players and triallists against a spirited Southend Manor and only a late equaliser from triallists ex Charlton Athletic man Kevin Lisbie preserved their unbeaten run of pre-season games. This was arguably Blues least inspiring performance with little of the energy and purpose on show in previous games. The absence of creative duo Barry Cogan and Ade Cole in midfield certainly didn't help matters but despite that the cohesion and tempo especially in the first half was missing.
Manor were quick out of the blocks and had the first opportunity firing wide of the Blues goal , they continued to look the sharper of the two teams in the early stages . Blues in comparison looked sluggish, second to the ball on numerous occasions with little fluidity in their play .Charlie Aldis was the busier of the two keepers, he did well to turn away a fierce 25 yard drive for a corner from which Manor took the lead in the 27th minute.
Blues created few opportunities in front of goal although they did have a goal disallowed for offside in a rare period of cohesive play.
Blues made a couple of changes at half time Ryan Mahal made way for Kai Brown allowing James Folkes to move to his more familiar full back position with Lisbie replacing Slabber, and although his pace may have diminished the ex Premier League player has not lost his touch.
The second period saw Blues up the tempo and at last begin to ask questions of their opponents, the Manor keeper was now being tested unlike the first period. Blues made further changes as the half progressed ,Callum Thompson and Furo Gogo-Itbiama made an appearance and once again gave a good account of themselves.
As the half progressed Manor came under increasing pressure and in the 68th minute that pressure told when Lisbie latched on to a through ball and cooly slotted the ball past the keeper. Blues continued to dominate possession in the closing period and could have gone ahead when Lisbie just failed to connect after good work by Bishop out wide but in the end had to settle for a draw in what was a drab encounter.
It is difficult to be too critical of performances in pre-season which ultimately are about honing match fitness and formation and shape but the lack of urgency and commitment in the opening period was a little disappointing bearing in mind the level attained in previous pre-season games.
Blues move into the last week of their pre-season programme with a trip over the water to face VCD Athletic this Tuesday 1st August kick off 7.45.