Huzzey hails his team's desire after victory over Barnet
George Burton scored his third goal in two Roots Hall appearances to nudge Southend into the Third Round, and Huzzey hailed the desire of the team as they were forced to overcome the dismissal of captain Ross Johnson early in the second half.
“I’m really happy for the boys. The work-rate and desire they put in is something we knew they had in them, but to do it to that extent, you have to pay them credit. They were absolutely brilliant,” he declared.
“It’s quite ironic because we were sitting in the changing room at half-time saying that we couldn’t play another 45 minutes like we had done in the last ten minutes of the first half where we sat deep and allowed the pressure onto us because we didn’t keep it when we broke out, but that’s exactly what we did because we had to with a man less.
"It was a killer because Ross was having a good game, breaking everything up. When he got a yellow, we knew he had to be a bit careful and, if I’m honest, I didn’t actually see the tackle, but I’m disappointed for him because he was gutted when he was sent off. However, the boys have done him the world of good by getting a result and making sure that we got another tie here against Middlesbrough.”
As well as being full of praise for his own team, and particularly the work undertaken by central defensive duo Daniel Matsuzaka and Sonny Coutts, Huzzey took time to pay tribute to Southend's opponents, who had arrived at Roots Hall on the back of six straight wins.
“Looking back, how many shots did they have on target in the second half? Maybe there was one, but I can’t remember any, and for us to do against that team, and in that game because they had so much of the ball and they didn’t finalise anything in the final third, that was due to how well we defended as a team.
"How many times did Dan Matsuzaka and Sonny Coutts jump in the way of something tonight? We talk about England defenders like John Terry jumping in the way of things, but that was unbelievable what they were doing tonight, and the work-rate, desire and determination not to get beaten doesn’t just happen when they jump in front of the ball; that happens in training every day, and that’s what makes Sonny and Dan the centre-halves they are. I thought they were class today.
“I honestly don’t believe we’ll play a better team in our category than Barnet. I said when we played them at Boots & Laces that they would be top of the table, and if they were not, then whoever is above them will win the league, because they are the best team we’ve played.
"We knew we would have our backs up against the wall slightly, although not to the extent we had it due to the circumstances with Ross being sent off, but the boys showed absolute desire and passion. We were playing against a Barnet team who are a top, top team and now it’s onwards and upwards. We’ve beaten the best in our category tonight, and now we’ve got to try to beat the best in another category.
That success was earned thanks to Burton's first-half header, and Huzzey was quick to draw attention to the assistance given to the forward by Nico Cotton and Brandon Scott: “In the first five minutes they had quite a lot of the play and that was what we expected, but the goal was brilliant from Brandon and Nico. Nico slid the ball down the outside and Brandon got the cross in and it was a great header. Take nothing away from George; he’s put that header in the top corner.
"George has been doing ever so well since the Peterborough game when we won 3-1. Off the back of that he played well in The FA Youth Cup and in the first half of the MK Dons game and tonight again he was brilliant. One thing about George is that he is so honest, and he worked his heart out so that when he came off the pitch, he was knackered. He was absolutely brilliant and I can’t give him enough compliments, but also Brandon and Nico combined well on the outside to get the cross in,” he added.
Now Blues take on Middlesbrough in the Third Round, and Huzzey is looking forward to the challenge: “Anything can happen. I’m excited. The boys deserve to play against the best players in the country and, from what I’ve heard and from what I’ve seen, Middlesbrough are that.
"I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve had a quick look before the game at where they are and how they’re getting on and I think they’re towards top of their league having beaten Manchester City 4-2 in their last match. It’ll be a tough one, but if the boys can show the work-rate, desire and the quality that they showed tonight, then it’ll be a great game,” he concluded.