Southend United Under-18s recorded their third straight win on Saturday with a 2-1 victory against Crawley Town.
Goals from Jack Payne and Mitchell Pinnock handed Ricky Duncan’s side three points at Holbrook Sports Centre.
Southend were rapidly out of the starting blocks and took the lead after five minutes when Pinnock’s cross found Payne at the back post who headed into the opposite corner, to bag his fifth goal of the season.
Blues keeper Ted Smith then watched Billy Woon’s curling effort from 25 yards fly past the left-hand post before Southend responded four minutes later, this time Payne seeing his deflected shot held by Red Devils’ stopper Jack Eden.
However, Crawley then equalised in the 20th minute as Alex Laing beat Smith in the United goal after he saved Emmanuel Rowe’s initial effort.
Smith then had to make a smart stop at his near post to thwart Rowe before Laing looped Malachi Robinson’s cross onto the roof of the net for Crawley just before half-time.
United started brightly after the break and Marlon Agyakwa saw his effort well saved by Eden before Jack Bridge’s follow-up was also kept out.
Southend did however take the lead once more in the 52nd minute when Agyakwa’s cross to the back post allowed Pinnock to lash an unstoppable volley into the back of the net from 15-yards out to make it 2-1.
Pinnock had another opportunity moments later as he stabbed into Eden’s gloves after Payne had flicked on a Jeffery cross before an outstanding stop maintained the 2-1 scoreline in the 77th minute.
Crawley’s Eden traveled across his goal to keep out Payne’s half-volley at point-blank range, and he also dealt with late Payne and Williams strikes.
Southend did have to withstand some pressure, first as Alex Malins and Louis Smith collided when trying to nod home Robinson’s swirling cross, and then when Smith appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty after becoming entangled with Banton.
Southend United: Smith, Jeffery, King (Coker 90+1), Edwards, Banton, Tatham, Agyakwa (Ademuliyi 73), Bridge (Sam 73), Williams, Payne, Pinnock.
Subs not used: Snook, Kojo.