Conference South side prove too strong for Blues' youth team
Brian Jeeves reports...
Southend United’s u-18’s were beaten 6-0 by Conference South newcomers Concord Rangers at Thames Road on Saturday.
Concord started brightly and were first to threaten, Jason Hallett’s cross just eluded Osborne. However, the Beachboys didn’t have to wait much longer to break the deadlock. In the third minute, Jason Hallett headed past Ted Smith in the Shrimpers goal, after Gary Ogilive’s free kick had cannoned down off the underside of the bar.
Blues came close to restoring parity when Josh Banton had Rangers keeper Jamie Butler scurrying across his line, while at the other end Osborne’s thundering effort was brilliantly fingered onto the top of the bar by Smith.
This was turning into a competitive encounter, with the Shrimpers youngsters giving as good as they got. Ryan Auger sent an effort harmlessly wide after some good approach play, then Jack Edwards headed over after a pinpoint centre from Mitchell Pinnock.
The home side had a glorious opportunity to double their advantage after Smith felled Osborne, giving whistler Neil West no option other than to point to the spot. Nevertheless, the Southend custodian redeemed the situation, making a smart saving from Ogilive low to his left.
Concord continued to press, former Great Wakering Rovers man James White found Leon Gordon, but his cross-shot escaped a clutch of would-be takers. Then Smith made a wonderful point-blank save to keep out Jack Lampe’s goal bound effort.
The Beachboys added a second on the stroke of half-time. Hallett swept home an unstoppable shot, although the Southend rearguard seemed disappointed that the goal wasn’t chalked off for an alleged foul in the build-up.
Despite the deficit, the young Shrimpers had given a good account of themselves. However, the introduction of former West Ham United front man Tony Stokes gave Southend a few nightmares. Stokes’ lethal pairing with Hallett was foundational in the Islanders promotion last season. As the thunder rolled around Thames Road, the pair looked to reignite that partnership. However, it was another of the Concord substitutes who was first to deal the Shrimpers a blow, Jacob Cleaver supplying a crisp finish to beat Smith after a well-constructed move.
Concord were bossing the encounter, but credit must go to the Shrimpers youngsters who showed endeavour and tried to play football. Jason Williams attempted to reduce the arrears, but his shot on the turn whistled over without troubling Butler.
The hosts turned the screw midway through the half as Cleaver headed over, then Smith made a good block to deny Gordon. At the other end, Butler made a similar stop to refute James Pinnock.
Nonetheless, Concord weren’t finished. Gordon’s deflected cross fell to Hallett who in turn dispatched a low strike past Smith to complete his hat-trick and make it 4-0.
Stokes then got in on the act beating Smith by thundering a free kick into the bottom left hand corner of the Shrimpers net.
Stokes completed the scoring late on, heading home from close range.
Concord Rangers: Butler, Osifuwa, Lee, Easterford, Goodacre, Gordon, Lampe, White, Ogilive, Hallett, Osborne
Concord Rangers substitutes: Glozier, Cleaver, Stokes, Livings, Hamilton.
Southend United: Smith, Auger, Farrell, Edwards, Banton, King, Scott, Barlow, Jason Williams, Gard, M Pinnock.
Southend United substitutes: J Pinnock, Keating, Cotton, Jordan Williams, Tackaie-Apenteng, Norman, Snook, Johnson, Adeyeye