Ricky Duncan's side pick up second win of the league season against Northampton Town
Southend United Under-18s defeated Northampton Town 3-0, overcoming the poor weather conditions at Boots & Laces to record back-to-back home wins and banish the memory of last weekend’s defeat at Peterborough United.
“It was important that we responded to the result last week, and I thought we did that well,” claimed Blues’ Head of Youth Ricky Duncan. “We bounced back and made a really good start to go 2-0 up within 13 minutes, and I’m pleased with the lads today.”
With one eye on Nico Cotton’s impending suspension following a red card last Saturday another first-year scholar in the shape of Emmauel Adeyeye was brought in for his first start of the campaign, but it would be his left-sided colleague Kane Farrell who would deliver the game’s first goal in just the fifth minute.
Midfielder Dan King had made good progress through midfield before delivering a 20-yard strike that was directed wide of the left-hand upright although, in doing so, he was clipped by a Northampton defender. Farrell took the set-piece following a successful free-kick against Millwall in pre-season, and his skidding effort deceived the goalkeeper as it slid into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
“That’s two free-kicks Kane has scored now from similar positions, so it’s a part of his game we’ll be seeking to develop,” said boss Duncan, who was delighted to see his side double their advantage just eight minutes later with the rain continuing to team down at the Shrimpers’ training ground.
Brandon Scott had recently shown good feet to control a return Jason Williams pass and work the ‘keeper from the edge of the ‘D’ when he was picked out by Adeyeye’s cross-field ball on the right-hand apex of the box. A low strike was sent looping over the custodian by a defender’s challenge, and another Cobblers back-liner tried his best to keep the ball out with a header on the goal-line, but it bounced down off the crossbar and in to make it 2-0.
With the precipitation beginning to ease, the visitors started to see a little more of the ball, but their first chance of note was downward header in the 26th minute that was planted wide of the left-hand post. Two minutes later it looked like Ted Smith would be tested for the first time when a forward cut the ball back to a team-mate in the six-yard box, but the danger was averted by Jordan Williams’ outstanding covering challenge.
Then, on the half-hour mark, Southend burst into a three-goal lead. A short throw was touched back to Jordan Williams, and he swept the ball into the penalty area for namesake Jason to attack. His header was tipped onto the post by the goalkeeper, who was unable to recover as Adeyeye took the opportunity to score his first goal for the Under-18s by tapping in the rebound from close range.
Leading marksman Williams was presented with another chance to add to his three goals this term when Farrell forced a through-ball between two defenders, but a prodded finish was well saved by the Northampton shotstopper ten minutes before half-time.
Shortly after the break, torrential rain began to fall which precluded Blues from playing their usual game. “I thought we had the chance to really go out there and finish Northampton off, but the conditions meant that too many passes went astray and we had to settle for 3-0 in the end,” Duncan mused.
There was a slightly anxious moment a couple of minutes after the interval when a left-wing cross bounced off the top of the crossbar, but Southend continued to enjoy the better chances, and soon Scott’s powerful strike was parried out impressively by the ‘keeper, who then denied Jason Williams in a one-on-one situation. Macauley Keaton - who started in place of Harry Norman - slid onto the loose ball 35 yards out, but he couldn’t keep his effort down.
A Northampton free-kick in a dangerous position was deflected over by the defensive wall midway through the half, but the game broke up and became disjointed during the final twenty minutes, which saw a player from each side cautioned.
“It was difficult out there, but I’m delighted with the clean sheet. We’ve been concentrating on our defensive work this week, so to come away from the game without conceding is a real plus point,” concluded Duncan. Blues’ Youths are away to Milton Keynes Dons next week looking for their first away win of 2013/14.
Southend United U18s: Ted Smith, Jordan Williams, Kane Farrell, Daniel King, Sonny Coutts, Daniel Matsuzaka, Brandon Scott, Charlie Barlow, Jason Williams (Daniel Snook, 80), Macauley Keaton (Kojo Apenteng, 71), Emmanuel Adeyeye (Nico Cotton, 63).
Goals: Farrell (5), Scott (13), Adeyeye (30).
Cautioned: King (86, foul tackle).