Ten-men fall to their first defeat of the new season at Peterborough
A goal in each half consigned Southend United Under-18s to their first defeat of the season at Peterborough United as the hosts ran out 2-0 winners.
Posh’s Jonathan Edwards gave his team the lead early on, and Blues still trailed late in the first half when Nico Cotton and Joe Burgess fought for the ball in midfield. Cotton was shown a red card for the challenge and, despite a strong Shrimpers showing in the second half, a late effort by Tom Conlon secured the three points for the hosts.
“Nico and their lad went in for the ball and we felt it was a 50-50 tackle,” reported Southend’s Head of Youth Ricky Duncan on the game’s defining moment. “We thought it was harsh for Nico to be sent off. There was nothing nasty in the challenge; it was just strong and hard from both players.”
“I felt really sorry for Nico. He’s an honest lad and he was fully committed. I’ve not seen it again on video, but I didn’t think it was worthy of a red card. Their lad unfortunately stayed down and eventually had to be taken to hospital and hopefully he will be alright. I will check with Peterborough tomorrow, but there wasn’t any malice in it. We thought that both players would get a yellow card, if anything.”
Duncan made one change to the starting line-up following the 3-2 victory over Stevenage on the opening day of the season with Josh Banton once again required to stay with the first-team squad. Schoolboy Sonny Coutts was fit to make his competitive debut alongside Daniel Matsuzaka at the heart of the Southend defence, and he replaced Ross Johnson.
Blues had been slow out of the blocks a week ago, and it was a similar story at Peterborough as Edwards was able to give the homesters an early advantage: “We started slowly, and it was probably our worst start of the season in terms of keeping possession. We had good shape, but we kept giving the ball away after every one or two passes,” explained Duncan.
“We then went 1-0 down. Both teams had gone close, but Ted Smith was a bit unlucky. He rolled the ball out to deliver a goal-kick and the grass a bit long and he slipped as he kicked it. It fell to a Peterborough player and they shifted the ball out wide and got a cross in to their forward, who was able to get across us and score before we could recover.”
Right-back Jordan Williams had a good chance to equalise, but he was unable to net and soon Blues found themselves reduced to ten men after Cotton and Posh skipper Burgess collided. Southend had to battle hard, but they came out for the second half fighting and Jason Williams twice went close to getting the visitors back on level terms.
“We decided upon a 4-3-2 formation and really worked hard to keep the pressure on. We created some opportunities and defended well. Danny [Matsuzaka] and Sonny marshalled the defence well; I thought Sonny was outstanding. He really impressed me as a schoolboy drafted in at the last minute. He stepped up and did a great job for us.”
“I said to the team after the game that my only complaint from the day was that if they had shown the same grit and determination in the first 40 minutes as we did in the second half, then we might have got something out of the match. I’m not sure why, but we showed a bit of fear in that first half. After the break, we did well, and Jason again worked the line well and had a couple of decent efforts,” Duncan added.
However, with time running out, Peterborough managed to add a second goal. They stole possession in midfield and Conlon was in position to finish off the move and make it 2-0. With a numerical disadvantage, Blues were unable to respond, but Duncan was still pleased with his charges.
“I said to the lads at the end that, with Josh staying with the first-team and Sonny stepping in, that’s what it’s all about, getting players through. I was impressed with the way Dan King played in midfield; he is really growing into that role and becoming a leader in the centre of the pitch. Macauley Keaton also worked hard when he came on and put a couple of lovely little balls through,” revealed Duncan.
“We’ve got Northampton Town next. It’s always a good game and an interesting game against them. They’ll be quick and probably play a 4-4-2 formation, but that’ll be another good experience. There are a lot of good clubs around now.”
Southend United U18s: Ted Smith, Jordan Williams, Kane Farrell, Daniel King, Sonny Coutts, Daniel Matsuzaka, Brandon Scott (Dan Snook), Charlie Barlow (Kojo Apenteng), Jason Williams, Harry Norman (Macauley Keaton), Nico Cotton.
Sent-Off: Cotton (41).