Southend showed pace & commitment, but lacking just a little quality. However, Perrett seemed to slip a little, just missing a tackle coming out of defence as he was dummied. The cross was palmed out & Gower side-foot volleyed from 15 yards straight on. 0-1,18. In response, Vokes was down again, this time going off requiring a pad to the nose but soon returned. Southend broke forward; Hollands didn't win the tackle & Francis kept going, shooting from 25 yards. The ball came to Stewart before it hit the floor, but it seemed to squeeze under him; from my & TV angles I couldn't detect significant swerve. 0-2, 23. Boscombe just didn't knit together. A good home move collapsed, Gowling pulled back the breaking wide player & received a talking to from the ref. Then a free & knock-down saw Hollands with a clear shot which he screwed wide. Vokes worked an opening, into the area at inside-right, & hit wide of the far post using the outside of his right foot. Other, better, options were available at the moment of shooting.
One bright aspect was the sight of Hollands tackling back, bringing the ball out of defence, & showing some sense of urgency compared to most of his colleagues. Kuffour sprayed it wide to Gradel; Vokes stabbed at the cross, the ball came out & Tessem shot wide from 25 yards. He did look casual at times; one such instance saw him lose the ball, & it was angled right to the breaking player who should've been tracked by Cummings. The low cross was angled from the inside-right position on the 18-yard line across the area where Black was already ahead of Young & gave Stewart no chance. 0-3, 44. Two major causes of this disgraceful state of affairs were that Gowling & Perrett had not combined as a pair all half, & had little cover in front of them. To compound the misery, Southend had merely played competently, taken opportunities, & barely went beyond 2nd gear.
Cherries kicked off, but straight away Perrett was casual & Southend had a corner. But soon a lovely ball went to Vokes whose shot was deflected wide to Cummings on his wing on the goal-line. He shot; the no.5 stuck out a leg & the ball went over the keeper & in the far top corner. 1-3, 50. I'm not sure the shot would've gone in; Cummings was credited but I feel Southend had scored all the goals so far. Then Gowling under-hit a back-pass (Titus Bramble wannabee?) so Stewart had to clear hastily. The cross came over, Perrett barely touched the striker who fell so no penalty was given until the ref saw the flagging linesman. The penalty was hit to the right of Stewart - but also wide of that post. We clutched at straws. Kuffour poked wide, but the match was a shambles. Kuffour was penalised in the 'D' - but the away 16 had a word from the ref.
For some time, Tessem had been marking space & not finding colleagues with his passes. Even Bond realised this, so with the crowd booing the ex-So'ton man he went off for Bartley on 62. Gradel made an opportunity for Vokes - which went over. Then Gradel was too intricate on the left; the ball was booted 70 yards up-field & Hooper out-muscled Gowling. With Perrett & Stewart converging rapidly, Hooper took the ball away from the car-crash defending &, with 3 Cherries in a heap, tapped in from 15 yards, from behind the spot. 1-4, 65. In response, from a free on the edge of the 'D', Kuffour had 2 attempts. It went over to Vokes who had an air shot. Not our day.
Mysteriously, Stewart came off on 72, Pryce replacing. Had enough? We'd not noticed an injury. Vokes had yet another head clash, amongst a series of faster but increasingly desperate attacks. Perhaps I shouldn't have had that curried goat for lunch - had I eaten the club mascot? Southend broke down their left, Gowling was left, the ball came over but was put past Pryce's left-hand post. Should've been 5. Kuffour had a good run & shot. Vokes sent it over very well to Young who delivered a great cross. Vokes's header was beaten out; Hollands shot low for a corner but again Cummings didn't deliver. Sadistic officials required 7 minutes added time; was there no end to our misery? Southend broke down the right but shot wide. Young went in hard by his corner flag; he won the ball but took most of his opponent thus earning the game's only yellow. Cooper had done nothing spectacular; he'd had to spend all his time filling holes left where others should have been, so he went down with cramp. Pitman replaced him for the last 2 minutes. Cherries' final free saw a header saved easily by Flahaven. The final whistle came as merciful release. FT 1-4.
When Steve Tilson left Grays to take over at Roots Hall, I thought: good call; good manager. Indeed - 2 promotions, so it was right they didn't sack him on relegation last season. Pity someone like him wasn't available when O'Driscoll left; not every home player had a poor game individually but generally played as a bunch of strangers. Overall - no cohesion, insufficient quality & 3 disastrous performances. When I met Claire for the bus back to Salisbury she kept very quiet on seeing my thunderous countenance. Ironically relegation might see us swap places with the other Shrimpers - Morecambe.
One bright note for some - Brian Stock scored the only goal as Donnie won at Leeds.
AFCB: Stewart, Young, Gowling, Perrett, Cummings, Gradel, Tessem, Cooper, Hollands, Vokes, Kuffour
Subs: Pryce (on for Stewart, 72), Bartley (on for Tessem, 62), Pitman (for Cooper, 90), Pearce, Bradbury
Pete Wicks, Bulford