Southend United’s youth team coach, Dave Huzzey, was left frustrated as Blues exited the Football League Youth Alliance Cup following a 4-0 Second Round defeat to AFC Wimbledon.
The Shrimpers conceded two goals in each half of the Boots & Laces clash to lose the knockout tie, and Huzzey believes the U18s side are not currently showing their full capabilities: “I’m disappointed because I know we can play a lot better than we did,” he declared.
“I felt that we were still in the game at 2-0 if we could come out and nick a goal early on in the second half. It’s frustrating knowing what the players have got in them when they’re not performing. Wimbledon were better than us, and they were four goals better than us in the end. We know we can do better than that.”
“At the moment it’s just not going for us. We won 2-0 against Northampton last weekend but, truthfully, we weren’t at our best. It still wasn’t like we were playing in pre-season and in the first couple of games. It was nowhere near it, and I think that showed today against a good side who were better than us all over the park.”
Blues conceded goals at crucial times, with Wimbledon doubling their lead in first half stoppage time and then extending it further five minutes after the interval. Huzzey felt that this was symptomatic of a lack of mental strength in a young squad.
“Those two goals killed us. At 1-0, I thought we had a chance. At 2-0 I still thought we had a chance because we were in the game and in the last fifteen minutes of the first half we were much the better side, and their manager has just said that. But they got a goal, and we’ve got to cope with that.”
“We’ve got to be mentally stronger than that, whether it’s in the last minute of the first half or the first minute of the second half, we’ve got to be able to come back from that. Then we came out in the second half as if we were going to go for it, and they scored again.”
“There’s no excuse, because if you’re mentally stronger and you’re better, even at 3-0, you can still get back into the game, but we let one or two goals get our heads down and we just folded. Maybe it’s the naivety of the team and the fact that they’re quite young, and part of it is development because players develop at different times. At the moment we’ve got a young group, but that’s not an excuse.”
“We should be better. I know how good these guys are. I’ll keep saying how good these guys are until they can prove it themselves. At the minute, I’m just saying it and they’re not showing it and it’s making me look silly but, hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we can rectify some of the results we’ve had.”
“The 7-0 at Peterborough is not out of anyone’s head, and this result won’t go out of anyone’s head for a good few months. The lads somehow need to bounce back from it,” he added, before warning that there will be changes to the starting line-up when a number of key personnel return from injury in the coming weeks.
“The lads need to grow up a little bit. You have to have a go at someone sometimes, as you would in the first team, but you have to know how to speak to people. At the minute, we’re a bit naive with that.”
“The good thing is that we have got players coming back in who are going to affect the game, and they’re going to play. Macauley Keating, Freddie Gard and Renei Batlokwa are three players that could change it, and Harry Norman is another one. They have been key for us.”
“It’s not an excuse because the boys that have come in have got a scholarship at this football club, so they should be good enough to play, but it’s refreshing to know that they’re coming back. However, for me to be saying that, it’s not good for the guys playing at the minute because they’re not performing,” he concluded.