Striker hopes to continue his good scoring form so far this season in the FA Youth Cup
Youth team centre-forward Jason Williams knows that there will be many scrutinising eyes fixed in his direction when he takes to the pitch on Tuesday evening for Southend United U18s in The FA Youth Cup.
Roots Hall hosts a First Round tie against Maidstone United on 5th November and Williams is looking forward to impressing those supporters who haven’t seen him before, as well as taking his chance to advance his claims for a professional contract in front of Phil Brown, Dave Penney and Graham Coughlan.
“The FA Youth Cup is a good learning curve, and it’s the closest thing to first team football because there are fans that will judge you there just the same as they do with the first team. It’ll be nice to make a good impression in front of them,” he said following Friday morning’s 1-0 league win over Crawley Town.
“It’s also the best chance to impress the management because the game will be more pressurised than youth team league football, so they can see how you deal with that pressure and how you perform in front of fans.”
The match being switched to Roots Hall has also given Williams, and his team-mates, the chance to experience playing at their home stadium. The striker, who has scored seven goals already this term, netted in the Essex Senior Cup at the venue last season but he is now relishing the opportunity to step onto the turf again in the current campaign.
“I’ve played at Roots Hall a few times, but not this year, so it’ll be good to play there. It’ll be better to play on a flat pitch as opposed to the training grounds that we’re used to, and in front of the home fans, which I’ve always wanted to do,” he added.
Last year Williams was a late inclusion in a side that were defeated 2-1 by Portsmouth at Fratton Park in the opening round of the competition, and he attributes his performance that night as the start of a progression that led to him making the first-team substitutes’ bench for the League Two match at Wycombe Wanderers in August.
“I remember walking to Boots & Laces before last season’s trip. We’d already sorted out the team on the Thursday and I wasn’t starting. I walked in at 12 o’clock to be told that I was now starting because Seedy [Njie] had got injured,” he recalls.
“I was a bit excited and shocked, and I knew I had to get my head on the game. I think I put in a good performance when I went out there and that got me noticed at the club. From there, it’s kept on going upwards. It was a good experience.”
And, as the squad prepare for the visit of Maidstone, Williams has some encouraging words for his colleagues as they try to set up a Second Round clash with Oxford United: “I believe in us. We’ve got some good players here and a good team spirit, so I think we can do it.”