Southend United's under-18's win 3-2 against Maidstone to progress to second round of FA Youth Cup.
Jason Williams scored a hat-trick to send Southend United’s under-18’s into the second round of the FA Youth Cup with a 3-2 victory against Maidstone under-18’s at Roots Hall.
Williams’ early double had put Blues’ youth in control of proceedings, but goals from Jack Sullivan and Regan Payne meant the sides went in level at half-time.
But the striker, who has been on the bench for the first team already this season, headed home in the 79th minute to send Blues through and set up a second round home tie with Oxford United.
Blues made an explosive start to the game as they found the breakthrough inside the opening four minutes. Nico Cotton’s cross from the left found Williams, who turned the ball past Will Godman in the Maidstone goal.
Both Cotton and Brandon Scott were causing problems out wide, and it was the latter’s cross that almost led to a second. Scott’s cross found Jack Bridge unmarked, but he couldn’t quite get his header on target and it sailed over.
Williams turned provider soon after to tee up Emmanuel Adeyeye on the break, but the youngster’s chipped effort lacked conviction.
The striker then cracked the crossbar after a terrific flowing move from Blues, but he soon had his second of the night wen Ben Swift’s attempted clearance hit Williams and went in.
Maidstone had rarely threatened but in the 22nd minute, they were back in the game. Ross Bassan played a good ball through for the advancing Sullivan to slot past Ted Smith.
With half an hour gone, the visitors drew level. Payne lashed home from the edge of the area after more good build-up play.
Blues first real chance of the second half fell to Bridge after he beat four men before seeing his shot tipped behind by Godmon.
After a half full of chances, the second half was more of a midfield battle, but with 79 minutes on the clock, Blues re-took the lead.
Charlie Barlow played in Williams behind the defence and after seeing his initial shot saved; he headed the rebound into an empty net.
That goal proved to be enough to ensure Blues progressed and set up a second round tie against Oxford United.
Blues: Smith; Williams, Matsuzaka, Banton, Adeyeye; King, Bridge, Barlow; Cotton, Williams, Scott.
Subs: Norman for King (51), Gard for Bridge (73), Johnson for Barlow (85)
Not used: Macree, Coutts, Apenteng, Walker.