Blues welcome league newcomers Basildon United to Parkside tomorrow for a Bostik League clash and another Essex local derby the second of four derby games in the busy Xmas period. Interestingly this is the first league meeting and only the third encounter in recent years, the other games all in cup competitions. The Bees made a blistering start to their first season topping the table in the opening weeks but since those heady days matters off the field have led to the departure of a number of players and Manager Marc Harris due to financial constraints . Michael Walther was subsequently appointed joint manager with Lee Connor but Walther then departed leaving Connor in temporary charge. Not surprisingly the turbulence off field led to a dip in form although Bees still sit in the top half of the table.
As mentioned this is only the third meeting in recent years between the clubs previous matches saw Blues win 2-1 and 6-1 both in the Essex Senior Cup in 1982 and 1997 respectively, the last meeting was in the FA Cup back in 1999, Blues again running out winners 7-1. Bees are a much stronger outfit now and despite being winless in their last six outings Blues must guard against complacency if they are to claim the points tomorrow. Ex Blues amongst their early season squad included Brian Moses, Eljay Worrell and Lamar Johnson who have all since departed. Worrell and Moses are still their leading goal scorers with six and five goals respectively.
After a fine run when Blues won four consecutive games they have hit the buffers recently losing their last two games. The controversial 1-0 reverse to Heybridge hinged on the dismissal of Adalbeto Pinto, the one man deficit clearly affected the outcome and had Blues a full compliment they showed enough in the game to suggest they would be rewarded with at least a draw. The 2-1 defeat last Saturday at Barking saw Blues punished for a lethargic lacklustre first half performance, the second period saw them dominate proceeding without capitalising on the numerous free kicks and corners won and only had a glancing header from Kieran Bishop to show for their efforts. No doubt they will be looking to get back to winning ways tomorrow which if secured will keep them in the promotion race. The only definite non starter will be Pinto who continues to serve his suspension for the red card against Heybridge. Ryan Mahal is rapidly closing in on a century of appearances for Blues with tomorrow possibly being his 93rd outing.
Bees currently sit one place and two points behind Blues who have twenty-seven points making this game a must win for both teams.
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