Southend United U18s progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Youth Alliance Cup with a 3-1 win against Leyton Orient at the weekend.
Goals from Mitchell Pinnock, Marlon Agyakwa and Jack Payne ensured that the Blues topped group four with seven points and must now wait to learn their opponents.
And following two straight defeats Southend Head of Youth Ricky Duncan was pleased that his side managed to bounce back.
“It was important that we bounced back from the disappointment of the defeat in The FA Youth Cup at Portsmouth, and it was a good response,” he told the official website.
“It was a shame we couldn’t keep a clean sheet, but we stopped a run of failing to win after scoring first in matches, and I’m pleased with the performance.”
Jason Williams had Blues first opening but his 13th minute strike was blocked by Andis Nikolaou before Southend went ahead three minutes later.
Agyakwa’s cross from the right bounced up invitingly for Pinnock to half-volley his finish into the bottom right hand corner.
Buoyed by his goal Pinnock then forced a save from Charlie Grainger with a skidding shot before the Orient keeper denied Josh Banton and Payne in quick succession.
Some desperate defending prevented Southend’s Pinnock moments later after Jack Edwards had released the winger. Grainger was then on hand once more to scoop another Pinnock effort over the bar after Fope Coker had released him.
Grainger, by this stage keeping the O’s in the match, twice denied Southend again firstly by blocking Williams’ finish before crowding out Payne on the rebound.
First-year scholar Williams was then to spurn a great chance to double the Blues advantage five minutes before half time. After skipping past O’s centre back Alex Finney he shot wide of the target as Grainger closed in.
Southend finally found a way past the impressive Orient custodian nine minutes after the half-time restart when Marlon Agyakwa crashed Pinnock’s cross in off the underside of the crossbar to make it 2-0.
United’s joyful mood momentarily then turned to one of concern as Coker was stretchered off after twisting his ankle in midfield. But despite the injury, Coker being replaced by Charlie Barlow, Southend notched a third goal in the 63rd minute through the prolific Jack Payne.
First the diminutive forward beat one defender on the touchline before sprinting clear of another on the edge of the box to send a superb strike into the top left hand corner.
It was Payne’s ninth goal of the season and Southend were then thwarted by the post as Payne’s effort bounced back off the woodwork after he shrugged off Finney before the home side grabbed a consolation goal in the 71st minute when Kevin Kwarteng arrowed his show past Blues keeper Ted Smith.
Smith did well to push a 25-yard shot over the crossbar with nine minute remaining as Southend booked their place in the final eight.
Southend United: Smith, King, Farrell, Edwards, Banton, Tatham, Coker (Barlow 60), Williams (Mullings 72), Payne, Pinnock.
Subs not used: Bridge, Snook.