Gard delighted to score at Roots Hall but gutted to be out of the FA Youth Cup
Substitute Freddie Gard endured a bittersweet evening in The FA Youth Cup as his second half goal was not enough to help Southend United overhaul Oxford United’s half-time lead.
Gard was introduced at the interval as boss Ricky Duncan made a double change with Blues trailing 3-0 in the Second Round tie, and his 58th minute goal gave the hosts hope.
Ultimately, it was not to be as Southend bowed out of the competition following a 3-1 defeat, but the Laindon-based youngster admitted that Roots Hall was a superb setting for his first goal at Under-18s level.
“I couldn’t’ve asked for a better place to score my first goal at the club,” he said.
“I’ve been here a long while now and, after getting 10 minutes in the First Round, it felt like it was my first time properly playing at the stadium, so to get a goal was nice.”
“It was my first of the season, and although it seems like a consolation goal now, at the time I think it was something that spurred us on a little bit.”
“If we’d got the second we might’ve been able to take the game to extra time, but I’m happy to have scored and hopefully I can crack on from here.”
Gard was also pleased to have contributed to an improved second half display after watching the opening period from the sidelines.
“I thought we showed a massive improvement in the second half after changing the shape a little bit and the personnel as well with two subs coming on.”
“We won the second half 1-0, which is the only positive we can really take from the game.”
“We had a couple of chances, and maybe if we’d got the second goal they might’ve cracked, but after the first half performance we left ourselves a mountain that was too hard to climb.”
“It was tough watching that first half. I wanted to start, but being on the bench watching us concede goal after goal was frustrating.”
“Coming on at half-time, I knew I had to make an impact straight away, and I felt I did that. I thought I was quite positive on the ball and the second half was a massive improvement as a team.”
“We had a bit more desire about us to want to go out there and win it,” added the first-year scholar, who was making his eleventh appearance of the season.
“It was a fantastic experience to play at a proper stadium under the floodlights. It’s the closest thing we get to a first-team fixture, so it’s a brilliant learning curve for us,” he continued.
“It’s good to get as many minutes as I can when I’m playing here, and it’s good to play in the atmosphere of big games such as tonight.”
“The FA Youth Cup is a fantastic competition to play in. Some great games have been played in this tournament.”
“It’s what everyone looks forward to and it is a big occasion,” Gard declared, before revealing that the Shrimpers will be redoubling their efforts next year.
“It’s a big night; we’re gutted to have gone out in the Second Round, but hopefully we’ll get a run next year, when I’ll be a second-year. The Third Round will definitely be a target next season.”