16-year-old defender says his first FA Youth Cup experience was great
Centre-half Daniel Matsuzaka could barely suppress his delight as his first experience of The FA Youth Cup ended in a 3-2 First Round victory over Maidstone United.
“I was really excited tonight. Before the game I was a bit nervous because you see FA Youth Cup games on TV and you think that maybe one day you could be there, and then you get there and there are a lot more fans than there are at a league game on a Saturday so it’s such a different sort of atmosphere,” he beamed.
The 16-year-old partnered Josh Banton at the heart of the Blues back-line, and he admitted he was impressed by non-League Maidstone, who had won four matches just to set up the First Round Proper clash.
“I think Maidstone played really good football. They tried to move the ball, they tried to play and I was really surprised with what they did. They matched us and we were lucky to get the result, to be honest. When we went 2-0 up we should’ve been more comfortable, but we lost our heads and the game got a bit open. They started to create some chances and put pressure on us,” he said.
Despite surrendering that early advantage, Matsuzaka remained confident that the Shrimpers would prevail in the end, even if he had begun to get anxious about when the winning goal was going to arrive.
“We became more solid after they equalised. Ted only had two saves to make in the match and we managed to create a couple of chances ourselves. There were spells in the game where they had more possession and they were on top of us, but we dealt with it well, I thought.”
“Maybe we did get a bit worried wondering if we were going to get a goal or not in the second half. It was just a great feeling when Jason got the winner. Once we got that goal we knew the game was over and we’d put it to bed.”
Southend will now host Oxford United in the Second Round, and Matsuzaka is eager to sample the Roots Hall atmosphere again as a prelude to hopefully gaining a professional deal: “I’m really excited about playing Oxford. They’re a Youth Alliance League side as well, so we need to step it up for that game. I think all the lads will be up for it because we know that we got away with it today. We’ll definitely be ready.”
“As an U16 I was a bit nervous coming from Crystal Palace, where I’d only played one youth team game. But since coming here I’ve really enjoyed it because I know there will be lots of opportunities for all of us. I just want to play games and hopefully I can keep on playing well, improve even more and get into the first team one day.”