Oxford United prove too strong in the FA Youth Cup Second Round
Southend United’s under-18’s hopes of a memorable FA Youth Cup run ended with a 3-1 defeat to Oxford United in the second round at Roots Hall on Monday night.
Sam Humphreys, James Roberts and Josh Ashby all scored inside the opening 45 minutes to condemn Ricky Duncan’s side to defeat.
Substitute Freddie Gard pulled one back for Blues in the 58th minute as he tapped home from close range, but they couldn’t make further inroads as they were knocked out of the competition.
The visitors took the lead in the 22nd minute as Blues failed to clear a ball over the top. Striker James Roberts cut the ball back for Humphreys who curled the ball past Ted Smith from just inside the area.
Blues’ first real sighting of goal came just before the half-hour mark, but after Jason Williams’ initial shot had been blocked, his cross to an unmarked Jack Bridge was just about headed clear by Robbie Cundy for Oxford.
Oxford then almost doubled their advantage five minutes later, but Cundy’s volley from Fred Grant’s free-kick was tame and Smith easily saved.
The visitors didn’t have to wait long to double their lead. Roberts sprung the offside trap well to latch on to a through ball from Greg Hackett, and confidently dispatched beyond the onrushing Ted Smith.
Before long, Blues found themselves in deeper trouble as Dan Matsuzaka fouled Roberts inside the penalty area. Ashby stepped up, and despite Smith guessing the right way, the ball found the back of the net, to make it 3-0 to Oxford United.
A double change from Blues at half-time saw Gard and Harry Norman introduced and a switch to a 3-5-2 formation.
It paid off in the 58th minute as Nico Cotton’s pace allowed him time and space to cross, and Gard was on hand in the middle to tap the ball into the net.
That goal had given Duncan’s side a new found belief, and they almost pulled another goal back in fortuitous circumstances. Brandon Scott’s cross looked to be going out of play, but it came bouncing back off the crossbar with Barney Martin nowhere near it.
Blues kept going, and Williams had his best chance of the game in the 76th minute, but he couldn’t keep his header down from Kane Farrell’s free-kick.
Williams also did well to latch onto a through ball from Bridge and cut the ball back from a tight angle, but no-one was on hand to tap the ball home.
That was Blues’ last real chance, as Oxford progressed to set up an away tie with Swansea City in round three.
Blues: Smith; Williams (Gard 45), Banton, Matsuzaka, Farrell; Bridge, Barlow (Norman 45), King (Johnson 89); Cotton, Scott, Williams.
Subs not used: Adeyeye, Macree, Keating, Apenteng.
Southend: Gard (58)
Oxford: Humphreys (22); Roberts (35); Ashby (40).