Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey admitted his side were inspired to defeat Posh at Boots & Laces on Saturday.
Freddie Gard put Blues in front in just the sixth minute, and further strikes from Nico Cotton and Ross Johnson in the second period gave Southend a three-goal advantage with ten minutes remaining. Emmanuel Adeyeyewas dismissed in the aftermath of the third goal, and Peterborough netted a consolation five minutes later, but there was to be no denying the hosts their fifth league victory of the campaign.
“I’m delighted for the boys,” declared Huzzey. “As much as we didn’t look at it from the perspective of them beating us 7-0 last time, it was in the back of everyone’s heads; as much as we said it wasn’t, it was. The more we told the boys it wasn’t about that, the more they thought about it, but I’m over the moon and this is a result the boys can definitely enjoy.
“I think we’ve grown up a little bit. We’ve been knocked on the floor, and we’ve hit rock-bottom when we were beaten by seven goals at Peterborough and then 7-2 at Watford, and now we’re starting to build up again and today’s result shows that,” he continued after the win against table-topping Posh.
“We mustn’t get carried away - we’ve won 3-1 and we were better than them today - but we’ve still got to kick on from this. We’ve got The FA Youth Cup coming up, which all the boys are looking forward to, and that should be a good game, so we’ve just got to make sure we carry on.
“The difference, for me, was that we had a bit of character today, and even when the chips were down and they hit the crossbar, I just knew by looking at the boys’ faces that it wasn’t happening to us today; we were going to make sure we did it right. It was the mental attitude to not lose the game, and it was a great performance. The boys did everything they needed to do.”
Southend were handed the perfect start when Gard stabbed them in front after just five minutes, but Huzzey knew that a solitary goal would not be enough to win the game and he was impressed by the way the teenage Shrimpers continued to go about their business against tough opponents.
“Too many times I’ve been talking about how we’ve reacted after the opposition have scored, and not enough times about how we’ve reacted after we’ve scored, and our reaction today was excellent. We came off at half-time knowing that 1-0 was not going to be enough, and we missed a few chances in the first half to go two- or three-up, but by the same token they missed a couple of chances in the first half themselves.
“It was really important that we went 1-0 up, and at half-time we spoke a lot about how we were going to keep the lead. We knew one goal wasn’t going to win the game, so we couldn’t sit behind the ball or wait for them to come at us; we had to get in their faces, as we did, and I thought we scored two really good goals because we went out and we had no fear about us.
"It just shows you the resilience the boys have got. It isn’t going to go right every time, and that’s maybe what was wrong at the start of the season with the boys’ mental attitude. Because we know we’re a good side, we thought it was going to go right every time and we were going to beat teams by three or four, when it didn’t happen we were frustrated.
“What we’ve done is asked what we will do when it doesn’t happen: what’s the next phase, what’s the next chance of making it right? With the second goal and the over-hit cross they had to keep it alive and then Nico scored; they’re the things that we live off and they’re the things the boys have done really well today,” he remarked.
There was an element of disappointment with Adeyeye’s late dismissal, but Huzzey was equally keen to concentrate on the positive performances of two of the team’s top players on the day: “I’m very disappointed in Manny for reacting the way he did. I’ve not seen the incident, but from what I’ve heard, it’s silly and it’s unprofessional, and we don’t condone that. It could’ve cost us the game today, and that isn’t acceptable, but Manny will know that. He’s a clever lad, and he’ll know that he needs to get better at that.
“But I thought there were a couple of key performances. George Burton was absolutely brilliant today. There’s never a question on his work-rate, but sometimes there is on his quality, but he had both of them today and he gave the two Peterborough centre-halves a torrid time by keeping the ball, linking play and hurting them in behind as well.
“The second one was Freddie Gard, and I couldn’t split them for man-of-the-match. Fred was class today, drawing them in to give away fouls, linking play, creating chances and getting the first goal. Those two deserve a special mention because I thought they were class,” he concluded.