IT will be like for like when Southend United visit Home Park on Saturday for Sky Bet League 2’s game of the day.Both sides are bang in form, currently putting up a strong current showing in the league, and going into their match on the back of an excellent FA Cup with Budweiser third-round display.
A day before Argyle drew 2-2 at League 1 Port Vale, a Southend side containing former Pilgrims Ryan Leonard, Conor Clifford and Will Atkinson – and coached by Green legend Graham Coughlan – knocked Championship Millwall out of the competition.
Manager Phil Brown has also steered the Shrimpers to the edge of the League 2 automatic promotion slots, but John is positive his players can cope with the challenge the Essex boys will present.
“They are bit like us at this moment in time,” said Pilgrims’ manager John Sheridan. “They are playing with a bit of confidence; they had a great result in the cup last week. I know Phil Brown and he has got the players playing for each other and as a team. They are a strong outfit and are up there on merit.
“It’s like I have always said – if you can go on a run and win a few games in this division, you can climb a few places and get yourself in contention. That’s what we will be trying to do. We are at home and we will take the game to them, and carry on what we have been doing of late: scoring goals, showing a bit of consistency in our game; and [having] a never-say-die attitude.
“If we do that we will have a good chance of doing something.”
John’s hope is that last week’s storming second-half comeback in the Potteries will add to his players’ growing self-belief.
“It was a very good performance at Port Vale,” he said. “It was a shame we didn’t go through on the day. To go 2-0 down – against the run of play, I feel – we could have let our heads drop but, full credit to the players, they battled really well, played some excellent football, and got Port Vale on the back foot.
“We got a well-deserved draw which gives us the opportunity to get through with the added bonus of a home tie against a good club in Brighton.
“Port Vale will think the same and it will be a difficult game, but we are still in the hat and we have got a chance.”