Southend United’s youth team coach, Dave Huzzey, was delighted with the professionalism of his side after watching Blues book their place in the Second Round of The FA Youth Cup.
Captain Ross Johnson put the team in front with a 19th-minute header before two strikes from forward George Burton made it 3-0 at half-time. Macauley Keating, Freddie Gard and vice-captain Sonny Coutts rounded off the scoring in the second period, and Huzzey praised the application of the squad.
“I’m happy. I think the boys did their jobs; they stuck to what we spoke about and I think they did well overall. They approached the game with the right attitude. We gave Leverstock Green the respect they deserved by going to watch them and finding out a little bit about them, and the boys then applied themselves exactly how we wanted them to by going and winning the game 6-0.
“At 2-0, Josh made two great saves where he got down low to the ball and they also hit the crossbar. Josh says he had that one covered, but I’m not so sure! Leverstock Green were not a bad side - the number 10 proved to be a bit of a handful and the number 8 had the lob - and if we’d’ve taken them lightly they could’ve scored a few against us.”
Bexon kept his third clean sheet of the season - and a second in the last three matches - and Huzzey felt that the research undertaken on the Southern Counties Floodlit Youth League outfit paid dividends for his side and eased their passage into the next round of the competition.
“We concentrated on Leverstock Green quite a bit in the days leading up to the match, so we paid them the respect they deserved and that was why we were professional in what we did. The boys expected every pass to perfect, and so did Rick and myself. I think that’s part of being professional, and that’s what we wanted to come out in them.
“At 3-0, when you come in at half-time, you get a bit worried that they might come out and try to impress their mates in the stand, and you don’t want that. But the boys went out there and stuck to their task and that’s what I’m most pleased about.
“Even at 3-0 we were still trying to play and then we got the next one. Once we got to four, I think the game was over and we started to enjoy it, but it was good that we got that fourth. At that time, if they’d’ve scored, they could’ve put us under a bit of pressure.”
It was the first half performance that put Blues in the driving seat, and particularly Johnson’s opener, which Huzzey admitted calmed a few nerves out on the pitch. After that, Burton’s brace was further evidence of a ruthless attitude in front of goal that will be required when Barnet visit in the Second Round.
“I’m really happy with George Burton getting two goals in the first half. In front of goal in the first half he was really clinical. When we scored first there was a bit of a sigh of relief and everyone calmed down and grew into the game. Before that we looked a little bit nervous, but being clinical in front of goal really helped us out and we were able to relax and play.
“There were a lot of players that haven’t played here and at the end of the game there were six first-years on the pitch that hadn’t set foot on the turf before, so it was good for them and hopefully we can take that experience of the atmosphere into the next game we play here. Barnet are a very good side and they’re doing very well in our league at the moment.
“When we played them we were 2-0 up and conceded two late goals to make it 2-2. They’re really good at playing it around on the edge of the box with their combination play. They’ll’ve been here watching us tonight so they know what to expect from us, and we know what to expect from them. It will be a close match and I’m looking forward to it,” he declared.