Duffers Marks Out Of Ten - Blues 2 Town 0

Last updated : 31 January 2006 By Adam Duffill

GK Darryl Flahavan | Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals Conceded: 0 | Rating: 6.5

Swindon only had two shots on target throughout the duration of the game, so for once, Darryl had a fairly quiet game… unlike Hartlepool away! In fact, I think Flahavan was so bored by the lack of action coming his way he actually had more banter with his ever-loving blues support than he did with the play.

RB Duncan Jupp | Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 7

Another solid performance for the ever-improving right-back. As ever, Jupp offered his services as an attacking option and it was a common sight to see him supporting Mark Bentley down the right hand side. Equally, the 30-year-old Scotsman was comfortable defensively and I can’t actually remember him having any problems whatsoever with Swindon’s tricky left-winger Al Jarrett.

CB Efetobore Sodje | Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 7

Steve Tilson once explained on the signing of international defender Efe Sodje: “I signed Sodje for one reason – to clear the ball”. The 32-year-old certainly did that during this game. Every time a Swindon attack began, the Nigerian international was there, and was not hesitant to give the ball a mighty hoof down field! Whilst Efe is not the most technically gifted player ever produced, he certainly does what is needed: gets the ball away firstly and foremostly, and secondly, wins the ball in the air. One thing that was certain after the Swindon game, Southend had all three points and another certainty is that after the amount of headers Sodje won, his head must have hurt!

CB Adam Barrett | Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 7

It was another game where Adam Barrett shone at the back for the Blues. The 26-year-old regularly went on a few of his mazing runs, and whilst he sometimes lost the ball he always seemed to win the ball back. Swindon weren’t that prolific in attack – as they’re two shots on target imply – however as was the case with Efe Sodje, Barrett remained solid and aware throughout the game.

LB Che Wilson | Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 1 | Rating: 6.5

Che can be pleased to have regained his place in the starting eleven, and more importantly having a good enough game to secure that place in the team. Che played an important part in the first goal, supporting Mark Gower on the left and playing the pass to him for the cross that was never cleared by the Swindon defence. Che never had any problems defensively and continued to support Gower on the left-wing to good effect throughout the game.

RM Mark Bentley | Minutes on pitch: 90| Goals: 0 | Assists: 1 | Rating: 7

The former Dagenham & Redbridge midfielder again performed well out of position, and is starting to really make the right hand side of the pitch his own. Linking up well with Duncan Jupp, Bentley often caused Town left-back Andy Gurney problems, and it was only a matter of time until the 27-year-old finally punished Swindon for their inability to defend, crossing the ball into the area for Luke Guttridge to score with the goalkeeper out of position.

CM Kevin Maher | Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 6.5

Whilst Luke Guttridge was busy doing the creative work that would win him the man-of-the-match award, Kevin Maher was busy doing the hard graft as per usual in the middle of the midfield, scrapping to create attacking opportunities and stop potential attacks from the visitors with clever interceptions. I am not going to go on about how the clubs captain never fully gets the credit he deserves, I have done that for the majority of the season, however Luke Guttridge would struggle without the help of the former Tottenham trainee in the midfield, and equally Maher finds things hard without Guttridge.

CM Luke Guttridge| Minutes on pitch: 69 | Goals: 1 | Assists: 1 | Rating: 8 (motm)

Once again, Luke Guttridge is proving me right. Last season, when Guttridge played only a few times on the wing following his transfer from Cambridge United, I heard many whispers questioning just why we had signed this former transfer target of Charlton Athletic. I had always stressed that Guttridge was playing out of position having seen him in action for Cambridge reserves earlier in the season, and said there was more to come from him this season. However, I didn’t expect this much. Guttridge has gone from playing in Cambridge United reserves to being linked with Premiership clubs within ten months. This sensational turn-around was on offer for all to see at Roots Hall on Friday night as Guttridge was everywhere, and the goal he scored was only half of the story. Having started a move on the halfway line, Guttridge sprinted to the edge of the Swindon penalty area to collect the return pass to Wayne Gray, before unselfishly laying the ball into the path of Mark Gower who slotted in goal number two for the Blues…one minute after Southend’s number 16 had put the Shrimpers ahead.

LM Mark Gower| Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 1 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 7.5

Friday night saw a rejuvenated Mark Gower. The Edmonton born winger was constantly tormenting the Swindon defence and finished splendidly following a lay-off from Guttridge. With the ball rolling onto his ‘weaker’ left foot, Gower drilled the ball first time, the ball flying through the legs of an onrushing defender and past Swindon’s helpless goalkeeper Rhys Evans. How the ‘keeper that the Blues tried to sign two seasons ago wished he was playing with rather than against Gower. The conclusion I reached by full time was that the Swindon defence looked jaded, and that was undoubtedly inflicted by the former Tottenham winger Gower, who is back to his best.

CF Freddy Eastwood| Minutes on pitch: 90 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 6.5

Freddy had a frustrating evening. The former Grays man was desperate to get in on the act and grab a goal. However it was probably the fact that he was desperate that prevented him from doing so, he was impatient and scuffed a couple of shots. However, the sooner Eastwood gets a goal the better, as it is now no goals in five games for the 22-year-old.

CF Wayne Gray | Minutes on pitch: 90| Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 6.5

The Swindon defence crowded both Eastwood and Gray out of the game, however whilst Gray couldn’t muster up a goal, he did very well, holding up the ball to good effect and playing a part in the first goal due to this attribute. Because the Swindon backline were so focused on keeping the Shrimpers frontline quiet, it gave the two wingers Bentley and Gower more room, which proved to be a big mistake on Iffy Onoura’s part.

CF Shaun Goater| Mins on pitch: 21| Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 6.5

It was great to see the goat back at Roots Hall again, even if he was out of sorts the last time the Seasiders faithful did see the former Manchester City man in action. Goater was given a similar role to the one he played against Tranmere Rovers away from home, coming on with just over twenty minutes to go and acting as a calming influence on the team. Other than holding the ball up and chasing a couple of lost clauses, which is not a strength of the Bermudan’s, Shaun kept things assured when a Southend attack was present and has definitely been refreshed by his two-week break in Bermuda during which he was injured.

LM Mitchell Cole| Mins on pitch: 21| Goals: 0 | Assists: 0 | Rating: 7

Cole came on at the same time as Goater, and looked incredibly sharp. Having had a long time on the substitutes bench and in the reserves, the former Grays winger looked hungry for action and gave Andy Gurney just as many problems as Mark Gower had done whilst he was on the left-wing. Having replaced Luke Guttridge, the fear was that the midfield would not be as strong as it was, but that worry was quashed as Cole always looked a threat – more so when he was given the ball.

By Adam Duffill