Blues youth fall to 5-3 defeat to MK Dons
A stirring finish, which included goals from George Burton, Daniel Snook and Jack Bridge, was not enough to prevent Southend United U18s from slipping to a 5-3 home defeat against Milton Keynes Dons.
Blues trailed 4-0 after three-quarters of the match, thanks principally to Kelvin Osei-Addo’s hat-trick, and the young forward added a personal fourth during stoppage time after Blues had threatened to fight back courtesy of schoolboy Burton’s debut strike and Snook’s opening goal of the campaign. A late penalty by playmaker Bridge, returning from injury, reflected Southend’s enhanced threat during the closing stages.
“When it was 4-0, you couldn’t complain about the scoreline because MK Dons had played so well to that point. They were the best team we’ve faced this season. If you look at their games, they are always high-scoring because of the way they play; it’s a total football style,” claimed Blues’ Head of Youth Ricky Duncan.
“If you don’t play at your best, then you will get punished, and that’s what happened to us today. We didn’t keep the ball well enough; when we gave the ball away, they were able to attack us, but when it was the other way round, we just gifted them possession back until we improved in the second half.”
That was certainly the theme during the opening stages with Ted Smith forced into a save as early as the second minute to turn away an effort from a forward after he had got the better of Daniel Matsuzaka on the left-hand side of the penalty area. Three minutes later an incisive attack down the opposite flank saw Smith make another smart stop before Jordan Williams cleared to safety.
Williams was called into action again in the sixth minute with what is becoming a trademark covering challenge on the edge of the six-yard box to deny Osei-Addo, but there was no stopping the front man from hitting a rasping shot beyond Smith just sixty seconds later when he was found by Aaran Weston’s pass.
Blues settled down after conceding but, in the absence of Jason Williams up front, Snook cast a lonely figure. He won an important 16th minute flick-on for Kojo Apenteng, allowing the midfielder to direct the hosts’ first effort into goalkeeper Charlie Burns’ gloves from 22 yards out, but MK were immediately on the front foot again and they sliced another opportunity wide shortly afterwards.
Charlie Barlow’s caution on 25 minutes for dissent showed Southend’s general frustration with the game at that stage, and things could have got worse just after the half-hour when the visitors were awarded a penalty. Williams was adjudged to have brought a forward down and Osei-Addo stepped up to take the spot-kick, which was pushed onto the outside of the right-hand post by Smith’s fingertips.
Either side of that opportunity, Snook and Brandon Scott both failed to test Burns from an acute angle on the apex of the six-yard box and Matsuzaka also prodded straight at the custodian just before the break, but by that stage Osei-Addo had doubled his own and his team’s tally, sweeping the loose ball over the line after Smith had partially saved his initial strike.
Skipper Smith made another good save on the stroke of half-time as MK Dons threatened to add a third, and Osei-Addo signalled the start of the second period with a searing shot narrowly over at the end of a stunning twisting run. However, the introduction of Jack Bridge gave Southend a new dimension up front and he began to assist Snook in hassling and harrying the MK back-line.
After 63 minutes, Bridge centred for Scott, who couldn’t quite get in front of his defender to test Burns, but Blues were soon rocked by Osei-Addo’s hat-trick, the marksman completing his hat-trick on the break by nipping past Smith. Three minutes later, the visitors were 4-0 up as a booming Burns goal-kick allowed MK to score from deep on the right flank.
Just before that quickfire double, Duncan had introduced schoolboy George Burton into the action, and he began a spirited fightback a quarter-of-an-hour from the end. Picking up the ball 25 yards from goal, he drifted inside intelligently before curling the ball beautifully into the roof of Burns’ net.
Two minutes later, Southend scented a sensational comeback. Kane Farrell swung in a pinpoint cross from the left flank which picked out Snook, who marked his first start of the season with a thumping close-range finish before racing back to the halfway line to initiate the restart.
The Shrimpers had all the momentum at this stage, and Farrell centred for Burton, who fired along the turf straight at Burns in the 78th minute. There were still only two goals in it when Snook hit the post from Scott’s back-post cross eight minutes later, although an assistant referee’s flag suggested that the ball may have drifted out of play.
Trialist David Maneu represented Duncan’s final substitution, and he had a real opening two minutes from time when he burst to the left byeline. However, with the likes of Barlow, Burton and Snook imploring him to pass, he elected to shoot into the side-netting with Burns guarding the near post.
Smith made a fine save to push out a low strike from the edge of the penalty area in the last minute of the regulation ninety, but Osei-Addo took his chance to make the game absolutely safe four minutes into injury time as he spun around his defender after controlling the ball to strike it in via the left-hand post.
Amazingly there was still time for Bridge to mark his return from injury with a goal as he was brought down after travelling into the penalty area. The second-year scholar stepped up himself to take the twelve-yarder and rolled the ball into the right-hand portion of the net to close out the 5-3 defeat.
“It was good to see Jack out there again, and I thought he made the difference in the second half. We introduced another schoolboy, George Burton, into Under-18s football, and he scored an excellent goal, and there were good performances again from Sonny Coutts, as a schoolboy, and Kane Farrell, who put in an outstanding cross for Snook’s goal,” concluded Duncan.
Southend United U18s: Ted Smith, Jordan Williams, Kane Farrell, Daniel King (Jack Bridge, 52), Sonny Coutts, Daniel Matsuzaka, Brandon Scott, Charlie Barlow, Daniel Snook, Macauley Keaton (George Burton, 64), Kojo Apenteng (David Maneu, 80). Substitutes not used: Ross Johnson, Harry Norman.
Goals: Burton (75), Snook (77), Bridge (90+6, pen).
Cautioned: Barlow (25, dissent).