Southend United Under-18s extended their unbeaten run to four matches with an eventful 1-1 draw against Portsmouth at Boots & Laces on Saturday.
Fope Coker’s opener for the Blues was cancelled out by an equaliser from Portsmouth’s James Harton in the second half.
But Blues Head of Youth Ricky Duncan felt it was his sides strongest showing this term.
“I thought that was probably our best performance of the season,” he told the official website.
“We were without quite a few players, but we were well on top until the final 15 minutes against a strong and physical Portsmouth side.
“I only met our goalkeeper, Dominic Russo, in the morning so I thought he did tremendously well in the circumstances.”
The first chance fell in the 14th minute when Jason Williams spurned an excellent chance to give Southend the lead when he deflected Jack Payne’s centre wide of the post from three yards.
Portsmouth keeper Connor O’Hara was then called into action three minutes later when he pawed Jack Bridge’s 25-yard strike around the post before Fope cleared off the line at the other end.
Williams then went close again as he chipped the ball wide of the left hand post before the first half ended when Horsburgh found the gloves of stand in keeper Dominic Russo before he then headed a right wing cross at the back post off target.
After the break a lofted finish from Payne almost caught O’Hara out before Russo collected a Warren header seconds later.
Southend finally broke the deadlock on the hour mark when Coker fired a free-kick past O’Hara from the edge of the penalty area after Bridge was fouled outside the box.
Despite efforts from Josh Banton and Marlon Agyakwa United found themselves pegged back midway through the second half in unfortunate circumstances. The ball was cut back from the right bye-line, which seemed to catch Portsmouth substitute James Hartson unawares, rolling into the bottom right-hand corner off his head.
Pompey pushed on after their equaliser and Bradley Tabruck charged down a clearance from Russo but was unable to convert, instead laying off to Hartson for a wild shot wide on 72 minutes.
Aaron Tatham then nodded over at the other end as Southend were given a let off by the visitors in the dying moments of the match. Keeper Russo did well to parry out a shot to Tarbuck who somehow managed to chip over from ten yards before substitute Jae Heon-Kim nodded wide from close range in stoppage time.
Southend United:Russo, Jeffery, Farrell, Edwards, Banton, Tatham, Agyakwa, Coker (King 84), Williams (Kojo 80), Bridge, Payne.