Southend United's under 18 side were unable to make a winning start to the 2012/13 season as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Gillingham.Blues' Head of Youth Ricky Duncan was pleased with the way his team responded after going in 1-0 down at half-time, but admitted that he wasn't happy with the display in the opening 45 minutes.
“Gillingham were well on top in the first half,” said Duncan. “We weren’t at the races, and I won’t accept that level of performance, so we’ll talk about that over the next week.
“I thought the second half was a big improvement. They hardly got into our half, we had all the play, and their goal was the only time that they threatened us at all.
“So, although we’ve lost, there is plenty there for us to work on in the next seven days.”
The Blues started poorly and they could have gone behind in the forth minute when Ted Smith pushed a shot from the edge of the area round the post. However, from the resultant corner a cleanly struck 20-yard shot beat Smith’s dive to nestle in the bottom right-hand corner.
Aaron Tatham responded by nodding Mitchell Pinnock's corner over before Jack Payne skidded a shot across the face of goal after a good run.
The Gills though remained on top, and a half volley on the half-hour was smothered by Ted Smith before a looping header six minutes later bounced back off the crossbar.
Marlon Agyakwa was denied an equaliser as the Gillingham goalkeeper tipped his 25-yard free-kick around the right-hand post before the Kent side went close twice before the half-time whistle to doubling their lead.
Two minutes after the break Blues pulled themselves level with the visitors when Seedy Njie latched onto a long clearance up field before thrashing a shot into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Mitchell Pinnock then went agonisingly close to putting Southend in front four minutes later as his 25-yard free-kick flew inches past the post, and shortly afterwards Payne glanced Robert Hyams’ left-wing cross wide.
However, against the run of the play Gillingham re-took the lead with eleven minutes remaining as a right-wing centre caught out the Blues backline and was converted from close range.
Try as they may, Southend couldn’t respond, most notably when Njie was found by Jack Edwards and he lifted the ball over the 'keeper, only for it to bounce inches over, and attentions will now turn to next weekend’s clash with Leyton Orient.
Southend United: Smith, Jeffrey, Hyams, Edwards, Banton, Tatham, Agyakwa (Ademiluyi 71), Bridge (Barlow 52), Njie, Payne, Pinnock (Williams 84).
Subs not used: Farrell, King.