History is well and truly on Southend’s side, but as we all know, that is no guarantee that the Essex side will prevail as they attempt to defeat a Scarborough side brimming with confidence after defeating Doncaster Rovers and Port Vale in the opening two rounds. The Seadogs have failed to reach the fourth round of the F.A. Cup in their 125-year history, and will be bidding to do so with that lucrative fourth round encounter awaiting the victors.
The prize is huge. Whatever the outcome of the two matches, the match will be televised live on SKY Sports at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday 24th January, with both sides being handed £265,000 for the privilege, and that is quite apart from the £30,000 received for being the commentary match on talkSPORT tomorrow evening. In addition to the television money, Blues stand to make tens of thousands of pounds in gate receipts, pocketing as they do 45% of the overall gate receipts, with the possibility of more should Chelsea’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovic give over all the proceeds from the attendance as he has done with fellow strugglers Notts County and Watford this year.
The game would also pull in vital new fans from the area, and would be most likely to create an atmosphere that Roots Hall has not seen since the 1979 Third Round game against Liverpool, before a substantial number of Blues’ supporters, including the TLG editorial team of myself and Mark Wallis, were even born. With Nike merchandise and programme sales likely to be an all-time record for United and all of the executive boxes and matchday suites sold out already in advance, the importance of the match cannot be underestimated.
And that could equally be said of the playing staff as well as the off-field benefits. Should Southend slip up and miss out on a glamour tie, the repercussions for the rest of the season and the struggle to avoid relegation, which continues with Cheltenham and Macclesfield both in Third Division action this midweek, in particular. If, by ten o’clock on Wednesday evening, United find themselves four points adrift of their nearest League rivals and out of the Cup, the resulting team morale would be noticeably lower as a crunch Division Three clash against championship-chasing Doncaster Rovers awaits at the weekend.
The omens remain good, though, as Southend, together with 130 supporters at £160 each fly to the northeast corner of Yorkshire tomorrow morning. Blues have never lost to their opposition in a competitive fixture, including the two previous Cup ties between the sides, a 4-1 win in December 1932 and then the Jay Smith-inspired draw at Roots Hall ten days ago. The two Yorkshire games thus far have finished with a 2-1 triumph in 1998/9 and a 1-1 draw in March 1990.
The form book also appears to sway in favour of the Shrimpers. Last Friday Blues ground out a 1-1 draw at fellow basement battlers Cheltenham Town, although they were denied a late win when Smith’s stoppage time effort was contentiously ruled out for offside. By contrast, the Seadogs were defeated 2-1 by Dr. Martens League side Stafford Rangers at the McCain Stadium in the third round of the F.A. Trophy, although they did field just two of the men likely to figure in the big match.
Both sides have been in rare form in cup competitions, the Trophy loss apart for Scarborough. Southend have lost just one cup match all season, that being the first one way back in August 3-2 at the hands of Swindon Town. Since then United have won five and drawn two in the F.A. Cup and the LDV Vans Trophy, with a potential two-legged area final against Colchester United lying in wait should Steve Tilson and Paul Brush’s men defeat Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday. Scarborough, meanwhile, also knocked out Football League opposition in the form of Port Vale (again) in that knock-out competition. Tilson’s troops have lost just twice since the end of November, and both times at home during a run of two defeats in eleven away from Roots Hall.
The Little Gazette, during an interview with Granada Television for Anglia News at Roots Hall on Tuesday afternoon, also learned of a huge boost in the striking department ahead of the Cup clash. With goalscorer at Whaddon Road, Drewe Broughton, out with a one-match ban, it was with great relief that we received the news from Geoffrey King that both James Corbett and Tesfaye Bramble would be fit to take part in tomorrow’s fixture. Both could start, with leading marksman relegated to the bench, but former Blackburn Rovers man Corbett is likely to begin proceedings on the substitutes bench.
Further back, Tilson is expected to continue with the same group of players that have served him so well in recent weeks. Darryl Flahavan had little chance to deal with Leon Cort’s cruel own goal against the Robins, and has been in arguably the form of his life in the past two months, which means that he should keep his place in the side ahead of former Luton Town and Colchester United shotstopper Carl Emberson.
In defence, Cort will not be punished for his own goal as he himself has looked better after a shaky start to the campaign. Lewis Hunt will play having signed a loan contract until the end of the season, and with his contracted club, Derby County, having been knocked out of the F.A. Cup by fellow Division One team Ipswich Town by three goals to nil on January 3rd.
Duncan Jupp and Jamie Stuart have returned to the full-back positions following injuries, and should retain their places ahead of the likes of Mark Warren, Che Wilson and Stuart Williams, all of whom have been on the substitutes bench in recent weeks. Dave McSweeney sits out the final match of his suspension after being dismissed in the incredible 3-2 win at Swansea City.
Club captain Kevin Maher, meanwhile, will make his last appearance before sitting out a game on account of reaching five bookings before February 21st. He should be partnered by Jay Smith, the F.A. Cup scoring hero so far this season, looking to repeat the incredible scenes at Park Lane against Canvey Island in round one. With Leke Odunsi and Jamie Fullarton both out for at least six weeks each, there is little competition for the central midfield positions.
The same can also be said of the wide places, with Mark Gower almost certain to continue on the right and Neil Jenkins to his left. Both places were substituted looking extremely jaded after the Cheltenham match, but the extra day’s rest afforded to them courtesy of the Friday night kick-off will have helped them immensely. Michael Kightly and Steven Clark wait in the wings so they be unfit to start.
The Seadogs will be without midfielder Wayne Gill as he sits out three matches on account of being sent off against Halifax Town on Boxing Day. Defender Matthew Redmile is in the same predicament having sat out the first encounter through suspension after collecting a red card in that match and another in the pre-Christmas period. Scarborough have no major injury doubts though, and manager Russell Slade will be hoping that his side can cause a shock.
The incentive for impressive winger Ashley Sestanovich is huge. Should ‘Boro win the tie, he will remain at the McCain Stadium for the possible tie against Chelsea, but if they crash out he will return to Sheffield United, where he will warm the bench in the absence of African Nations Cup star Peter Ndlovu.
The match is a 7:45 p.m. kick off, and Shrimpers will be housed in the Edgehill Road End behind one of the goals. With at least 580 travelling by car or plane, the turn-out from southeast Essex should constitute over half of the 1200-capacity stand. Vouchers will be handed out at the gate for the possible tie with Chelsea, and the entrance fee is £12 for adults and £6 concessions. Programmes are priced at £2. Whether at the McCain Stadium or at home listening to the radio and waiting for the highlights on BBC’s Match Of The Day programme, enjoy the game, and to those in Yorkshire, we’ll see you there!
Referee: Brian Curson (Leicestershire)
Assistant Referees: Mr. D.J. Cann (Norwich), Mr. M.T. McCoy (Kent)
Fourth Official: Mr. M. John
Curson has been on the select panel of Football League referees for the last five seasons, with a rather worrying current record of nine reds and 61 yellows in 21 matches during 2003/4. Four of those dismissals came in two Division Three clashes this year – Steve Yates and Richie Foran in an exchange on the verge of the Huddersfield Town/Carlisle United encounter, and Richard Hope and Lee Trundle for York City and Swansea City in another contentious manner. Never one to take his whistle out of his mouth and keep his card in his pocket, it is perhaps a slight surprise that his last Southend game before the original clash saw just one booking – Drewe Broughton for Kidderminster Harriers in a 1-0 Blues win at Roots Hall two years ago. In his four Southend matches he has booked just eleven players, among them Martyn Booty, Neil Tolson and Phil Whelan in a 3-0 defeat at Sincil Bank against Lincoln City.
In the original tie, Mark Wallis adjudicated: 4 out of 10 - Curson failed to award United a penalty when Bramble was barged to the floor by Baker in the first half, and failed somewhat to impress away from that decision.
Friday 9th January 2004 – Nationwide League Division Three @ Whaddon Road
Cheltenham Town 1 (Leon Cort 87 [o.g]) Southend United 1 (Drewe Broughton 70) [attendance: 4,451]. Southend United line-up (4-4-2): Darryl Flahavan; Duncan Jupp, Leon Cort, Lewis Hunt, Jamie Stuart; Mark Gower (Mark Warren 82), Kevin Maher, Jay Smith, Neil Jenkins (Michael Kightly 84); Drewe Broughton, Leon Constantine. Subs not used: Carl Emberson, Steven Clark, Stuart Williams.
Saturday 10th January 2004 – F.A. Trophy third round @ the McCain Stadium
Scarborough 1 (Chris Senior 60) Stafford Rangers 2 (Danny Davidson, Michael Price 88 [o.g.]) [attendance: 1,117]. Scarborough line-up (4-4-2): Adam Sollitt; Stephen Capper, Colin Cryan, Glen Downey, Michael Price; Chris Senior, Jimmy Kelly, Jacques Williams, Chris Batchelor; Tristram Whitman, Keith Graydon. Subs: Gareth Downey, Ashley Lyth, Tom Raw, Jamie Sherlock, Stephen Leadbetter.
Last Five Matches
D1-1 (away; Cheltenham Town; League Division Three; Drewe Broughton)
D1-1 (home; Scarborough; F.A. Cup; Jay Smith)
L0-1 (home; Oxford United; League Division Three)
W1-0 (away; Cambridge United; League Division Three; Leon Constantine)
L0-1 (home; Bristol Rovers; League Division Three)
L1-2 (home; Stafford Rangers; F.A. Trophy; Chris Senior)
D1-1 (away; Southend United; F.A. Cup; Scott Kerr)
L0-1 (away; Halifax Town; Football Conference)
W1-0 (home; Northwich Victoria; Football Conference; Ashley Sestanovich)
W2-1 (away; Farnborough; Football Conference; Ashley Sestanovich, Mark Quayle)
Southend United away form
D1-1 (League Division Three; Cheltenham Town; Drewe Broughton)
W1-0 (League Division Three; Cambridge United; Leon Constantine)
W3-2 (League Division Three; Swansea City; Leon Constantine, Mark Gower, Mark Warren)
L0-3 (League Division Three; Torquay United)
W3-2 (F.A. Cup; Canvey Island; Tesfaye Bramble, Jay Smith 2)
Scarborough home form
L1-2 (F.A. Trophy; Chris Senior)
W1-0 (Football Conference; Northwich Victoria, Ashley Sestanovich)
D2-2 (Football Conference; Barnet; Matthew Redmile, Jimmy Kelly)
W1-0 (Football Conference; Aldershot Town; Matthew Redmile)
W1-0 (F.A. Cup; Doncaster Rovers; Karl Rose)
Nationwide League Division Three (overall [away])
Played: 25 
Won: 7 
Drawn: 4 
Lost: 14 
Scored: 23 
Conceded: 38 
Goal Difference: -15 [-10]
Points: 25 
Position: 22nd [10th]
First Round: beat Canvey Island (away) 3-2 in repay after 1-1 draw at home
Second Round: beat Lincoln City (home) 3-0
Third Round: vs. Scarborough (away) on Wednesday 14th January 2004 in replay after 1-1 draw at home
First Round: lost to Swindon Town (home) 2-3
LDV Vans Trophy
First Round: beat Bristol Rovers (home) 2-1 after silver goal extra time
Second Round: beat Swansea City (away) 2-1
Southern Section Quarter-Final: beat Luton Town (home) 3-0
Southern Section Semi-Final: vs. Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday 20th January 2004
Nationwide Football Conference (overall [away])
Played: 24 
Won: 7 
Drawn: 10 
Lost: 7 
Scored: 28 
Conceded: 25 
Goal Difference: +3 [+4]
Points: 31 
Position: 15th [13th]
First Round: beat Doncaster Rovers (home) 1-0
Second Round: beat Port Vale (away) 1-0
Third Round: vs. Southend United (home) on Wednesday 14th January 2004 in replay after 1-1 draw away
LDV Vans Trophy
First Round: beat Port Vale (home) 2-1
Second Round: lost to Halifax Town (home) 0-1
Third Round: lost to Stafford Rangers (home) 1-2
Jay Smith 10
F,A, Cup third round @ Roots Hall, Saturday 3rd January 2004
Scott Kerr 75
Kevin Maher --
Scott Kerr --
Ashley Sestanovich --
Last Six Meetings (and Complete-Head-to-Head Record)
3rd January 2004 – Southend United 1 (Jay Smith 10) Scarborough 1 (Scott Kerr 75) – F.A. Cup third round
9th January 1999 – Southend United 1 (Simon Livett 81) Scarborough 0 – League Division Three
8th August 1998 – Scarborough 1 (Steve Brodie 37) Southend United 2 (Simon Coleman 60, Julian Hails 77) – League Division Three
17th March 1990 – Scarborough 1 Southend United 1 – League Division Four
7th October 1989 – Southend United 1 Scarborough 0 – League Division Four
10th December 1932 – Southend United 4 Scarborough 1 – F.A. Cup
Overall (6 matches)
Southend United 4
In the F.A. Cup (2 matches)
Southend United 1
At Scarborough (2 matches)
Southend United 1