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Under-18's lose 3-0 at Luton Town

18 April 2013

Final game of the season ends in 3-0 defeat

Southend United Under-18s ended the 2012/13 season with a 3-0 defeat at Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference title hopefuls Luton Town with all three goals coming within 20 minutes either side of half-time.

The reverse meant that Blues’ Youths suffered back-to-back 3-0 losses at the conclusion of the campaign, with this result following swiftly on from Saturday’s identical scoreline at Boots & Laces against a resurgent Peterborough United. Head of Youth Ricky Duncan was phlegmatic in his assessment of the game: “It was a typical end-of-season game for us. We had a couple of decent periods, but overall we didn’t defend well enough as a team and we were punished for it.”

Duncan was able to call upon a strong squad and named new first-team debutant Mitchell Pinnock on the left flank. Seedy Njie, who was a travelling reserve for the League Two encounter at Aldershot Town, started up front whilst developmental midfielder Jack Paxman was also involved from the outset.

First-team boss Phil Brown and his assistant, Graham Coughlan, were both present again, but they had little to view during the opening 18 minutes as a combination of a strong cross-wind, a difficult playing surface and a generous slope meant that both teams struggled to obtain any rhythm.

Ted Smith managed to tip a swinging free-kick wide early on, but the first genuine save from either goalkeeper came courtesy of Luton’s Ben Barnes when he comfortably gathered Pinnock’s drilled set-piece from the right-hand apex of the penalty area. The winger was involved again shortly afterwards when his square ball was diverted into the path of Jack Edwards, who directed a rising strike off-target, whilst in between the hosts’ Luke Trottman shot weakly at Smith.

Southend were finding it increasingly difficult to retain possession, with judgement of the ball down the slope proving particularly tough. The Hatters were warming to their own task, and a useful Arel Amu effort was well-stopped by Smith, who was indebted to Daniel Matsuzaka for clearing the ball to safety. Amu went close again in the 35th minute when he flicked Lee Hawkes’ long throw goalwards, but Smith was alert and made an easy save at his near post. 

Three minutes later, Luton were in front. Charlie Barlow attempted to make a routine pass in midfield, but the referee was poorly positioned and he deflected the ball into the path of Town’s Ian Rees. He, in turn, picked out Zane Banton, and the forward arrowed a precise finish inside the right-hand post to make it 1-0.

Smith was quickly called upon to make a scrambling save from Amu, pushing away the forward’s rasping effort from 15 yards out, but he was helpless to keep out the second goal just a couple of minutes before half-time. Leeroy Magaraushe seemed to be chasing a lost cause towards the corner flag, but he somehow obtained possession from Daniel King. Blues’ right-back won the ball back, but he then gave it away to Banton, who tapped it on for Amu to crash into the roof of the net from close-range.

Like Saturday’s match, the goal on the stroke of half-time knocked Southend back, and Amu was soon scenting another when the second half began. He galloped down the left flank before beating Smith with an angled shot, although on this occasion Aaron Tatham was expertly-positioned to stab off the goal-line.

Blues could have hauled themselves back into the game when Pinnock and Edwards helped Barlow to cross for Njie, who glanced his header narrowly wide, but instead they found themselves 3-0 down as Charlie Smith released Luke Trottman on the right and he cut inside Robert Hyams devastatingly before slamming his shot into the top left-hand corner.

Jason Williams, Nico Cotton and Macauley Keaton were all introduced to give the Shrimpers some fresh legs and, in the 74th minute, the changes almost paid dividends as Cotton’s near-post corner was helped on by Marlon Agyakwa, only for Barnes to brilliantly claw the ball away from behind him. During this spell, Paxman delivered a searing shot narrowly over, but Luton still ended the match the stronger.

In the 89th minute, good build-up play led to Smith making a smart stop from his namesake above his head, whilst the Hatters thought they had scored a fourth in stoppage time when Magaraushe’s strike cannoned back off the crossbar. The winger attempted to nod in the rebound, but Smith made a fingertip save in the final competitive action of the 2012/13 season. 
 
Southend United U18s: Ted Smith, Daniel King, Robert Hyams, Jack Edwards, Aaron Tatham, Daniel Matsuzaka, Marlon Agyakwa, Jack Paxman, Seedy Njie (Jason Williams, 62), Charlie Barlow (Macauley Keaton, 78), Mitchell Pinnock (Nico Cotton, 65).

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