Southend United U18s vice-captain Sonny Coutts is looking forward to the prospect of playing at Roots Hall again when Blues take on Barnet in The FA Youth Cup on Thursday evening.
The first-year scholar made his first appearance at the venue against Leverstock Green in the First Round, marking the occasion with the final goal in a 6-0 victory over the non-league outfit.
Now Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference rivals provide the opposition in the Second Round, and Coutts is hoping that Southend build on the knowledge gained from their previous Roots Hall outing.
“It was my first time playing at Roots Hall. It was quite a young side, so that was the same for a lot of the boys and in the first few minutes it was quite nervy,” he admitted when discussing the Leverstock Green match as part of an interview for the matchday programme.
“It was a long day, especially with the 7:30pm kick-off, so we had to keep our nerves under control. I think that showed in the early stages, but once we got ourselves in the game and went 1-0 up we were fine.
“We don’t play under floodlights very often, so it’s completely different feel to a Saturday game, especially with it being at a stadium. The atmosphere is a lot better and it just seems to be a lot different at night, but it was an enjoyable experience and I’m looking forward to Thursday’s game.”
The central defender’s previous experience of playing in front of such a large crowd - 383 witnessed the First Round encounter - was on a foreign trip as part of the club’s European Tour Programme, and he would love to see more fans head to Roots Hall for the clash against the Bees.
“I haven’t had that many people watching me in quite a long time. When I was younger we used to go away and I got quite used to playing in front of a lot of people, but it motivates you a lot, especially when you hear the opposition fans,” the Rayleigh-based teenager revealed.
“It felt like there were as many Leverstock Green fans there as Southend fans, and that’s a different challenge to face, but it was enjoyable and, of course, it prepares you for first-team football.
“Barnet are very good going forwards, but the last time we played them we were 2-0 up and we conceded two late goals. We’ve only lost two matches in ten and that’s a very good record, so hopefully Saturday was just a little blip and we can turn it back on in The FA Youth Cup,” he concluded.
Southend United host Barnet at Roots Hall in the Second Round of The FA Youth Cup at 7:30pm on Thursday evening. Admission is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.