Mitchell Pinnock gives Blues' under-18's a 1-0 win against Dagenham & Redbridge
Southend United’s Under-18 team recorded their first victory in four matches as Mitchell Pinnock’s 70th minute corner consigned Dagenham & Redbridge to a 1-0 defeat at Boots & Laces.
Daggers had drawn 1-1 with Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference leaders Watford in midweek, whilst Southend came into the fixture on the back of three consecutive defeats. But, after defending well during the opening period, Blues built-in an additional attacking facet in the second period, including Pinnock’s superb flag-kick.
“I was pleased with the lads today; they worked hard individually and as a team to get the result in a tough match,” said youth team coach Stuart Bimson after the match. “At half-time, we reminded them that they had to be patient and wait for their time to come, and we relaxed and played well during the second half.”
Harry Jeffery returned to the starting line-up at right-back, whilst Charlie Barlow was drafted into the centre of midfield in place of Daniel King and injured centre-half Aaron Tatham from the line-up at Gillingham. Blues had won 3-0 at Dagenham in a Youth Alliance Cup group fixture earlier in the season, but the two teams took some time to size each other up initially in this encounter.
Daggers had the first effort in the 13th minute when centre-back Danny Thompson met Jordan Sidhu’s right-wing corner at the back post, but he nodded wide. The visitors went on to bring the first save out of Ted Smith six minutes later when Harrison Tweddell sent the custodian scrambling across his goal to collect a stooping header.
It was midway through the first period before Southend threatened a goal, initially courtesy of the enterprise of Marlon Agyakwa on the right flank. He squeezed through the smallest of gaps between two defenders and tricked his way beyond another before being stopped by the fourth. He retained possession, though, offloading to Jack Bridge, who in turn found Jack Edwards. The midfielder’s rasping half-volley was unconvincingly parried out by Ollie Bowles in the Dagenham goal.
Timothy Monsheju had brought the best out of Smith in the previous meeting, and he did so again just after the half-hour mark with a heavily deflected strike from 30 yards. Smith had already committed himself in one direction, but he swiftly spun around to make a difficult save look routine. Within sixty seconds Monsheju ghosted in at the back post in an attempt to convert a close-range finish, but he failed to make a clean connection and the gloveman gathered again.
The two sides traded chances late in the half, Agyakwa bringing down a high ball forward to test Bowles and Shaquille Jordan Daniel maintaining his balance to send a curling effort into Smith’s gloves from the edge of the penalty area. The half closed with Tweddell stabbing across the face of goal when well-placed seven yards out.
“I thought the first half was quite even. Their forward had a couple of chances, but Jack Edwards could also have scored at the other end when their ‘keeper made a decent save. If anything they probably shaded it a little bit, but we made up for that in the second half,” claimed Bimson.
There was certainly a completely different complexion to the match after the interval as Smith became a virtual spectator. Mitchell Pinnock skipped down the left flank in the 55th minute before finding Daniel Snook 20 yards out, but he sent a searing shot narrowly over. Six minutes later Snook turned provider for Bridge, flicking the ball into the playmaker’s path, but it appeared to take a bobble as he delivered his shot and flew over.
Snook was involved in the build-up again in the 65th minute, glancing the ball out wide to Pinnock, who sent a pinpoint centre onto the head of Bridge at the back post. The local lad had the goal at his mercy, but he planted his aerial effort wide of the left-hand upright. Within seconds, Bowles’ goal-kick dropped into the path of Edwards 25 yards out, only for an audacious volley to drop inches wide of the opposite post.
Southend finally grabbed the lead 20 minutes from the end. Pinnock’s left-wing cross was fumbled behind by Bowles with Agyakwa lurking at the back post, and the wide man raced across to the right-hand corner quadrant to wickedly swing his flag-kick over the flailing shotstopper and directly into the net.
Blues visibly grew in confidence, and a sparkling run by Bridge two minutes later culminated in a vicious shot fired over the crossbar. Later on Kane Farrell advanced down the left, and his cross saw Barlow and Bridge both denied by desperate blocks, but by then the result was almost assured and, with it, the Under-18 team’s first clean sheet since the start of October.
“It was important that the players out there got 90 minutes today. With the matches coming thick-and-fast at the moment, we didn’t make any substitutions, but all the substitutes today will get a decent run-out in midweek against AFC Wimbledon,” Bimson concluded. The Dons visit Boots & Laces on Tuesday afternoon at 2.00pm.
Southend United: Ted Smith, Harry Jeffery, Kane Farrell, Charlie Barlow, Josh Banton, Daniel Matsuzaka, Marlon Agyakwa, Jack Edwards, Daniel Snook, Jack Bridge, Mitchell Pinnock. Substitutes not used: Kojo Apenteng, Robert Hyams, Daniel King, Jason Williams.
Goal: Pinnock (70).
Cautioned: Smith (56, delaying the restart of play).
You can watch highlights of the game on Blues Player.