Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey prescribed a period of hard work for the club’s scholars after watching the U18s lose 7-2 at Watford.
Blues were made to pay the price for a series of individual errors throughout the match, and second half goals by George Burton and Norman Wabo were swamped as a result. Huzzey branded the scoreline “embarrassing” after Southend conceded seven goals for the second time this season.
“You’ve got players in there that you expect more from who, at times, don’t deliver. We can stand here and say it’s about development as much as we like, but we’ve just lost 7-2 to a Watford side and five of the seven were individual mistakes. It was individual naivety, individual mistakes and decision-making that has killed us. I could go through all five of the goals and tell you how it happened, but where do you go from that?” he said.
“They’ve come off at half-time and we had a shout at them. To be fair, in the second half, they were better. I don’t know if they played better in the second half, or if they just made fewer mistakes but, listen, the result’s overshadowing the performance. Don’t get me wrong - we didn’t perform well enough to win the game, simple as that, but the individual mistakes killed us.
“The first ten minutes of the first half, I was thinking we were playing alright and then we conceded a goal that was a genuine mistake. Then we conceded another goal that’s a genuine mistake, then we conceded another goal that’s a genuine mistake! They scored four in the first half, and three of them were genuine mistakes. At 4-0 down at half-time; where do you go from there?
“We scored two in the second half, but we’ve given away a penalty where Abdul Salami’s handballed it which is another unbelievable mistake but, with Brandon coming off the pitch after 10 or 15 minutes of the game, we brought on Damani Dias, an U16, and he was a shining light throughout the group, I thought.
“It was very hard for him coming on 1-0 down with everything against us, and then when we conceded another you could think he might go hiding, but he didn’t, and he got his deserved chance for the weeks before when he has come on and done well. We’re pleased with that, and that’s the positive we can take out of the game.
“Apart from that, they’re in on Sunday - they’re not normally in on Sunday - and they’ll be in every Sunday until we can get this right, because it isn’t right. For a Southend United youth team to concede seven goals twice in a season is unheard of, and it’s embarrassing, so we need to sort that out.
“I didn’t think, after the Peterborough game, that we’d concede seven again. I didn’t think we’d play like that again and it wasn’t because the three individual mistakes in the first half, and the two in the second half, have cost us this game.“
The defeat left Huzzey musing a series of unanswerable questions, but with a steely resolve to put things right on the training ground ahead of next weekend’s clash with AFC Wimbledon: “The boys are going to be absolutely gutted, and so are me and Rick, but by the same token, it’s about how we bounce back again,” he said.
“How many pros are we going to get out of this group? How well are we going to do in The FA Youth Cup in a couple of weeks’ time? How well are we going to do in the Merit League? Are we going to go in the top division, are we going to be in the second division or are we going to be in the third? Those are questions that are unanswered.
“At the moment, whereas in last year’s team we had a bit of continuity and a bit of consistency, this group is completely different. We’ve lost 7-0 to Peterborough, 4-0 to AFC Wimbledon, then we’ve gone on a four-match unbeaten run where we’re playing really well and we’ve come to Watford thinking we’ve got a really good chance of turning these over and we’ve lost 7-2.
“That’s something I can’t explain, but it’s something we need to address because it’s about the mindset and attitude of some of the boys. We’ve got to try and improve as a group by getting them in on Sunday and having a word with them, and seeing what they think. I’ve got to hold my hands up, and I think Rick would do the same, but one of the boys said after the game that, without the five mistakes, we played alright.
“Yes, we played alright without the five mistakes but, in the first team if you make five mistakes and you lose 7-2, I don’t know if you’ll be playing any more games. That’s the harsh reality of football, and I think they’re learning that now. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again. Let’s hope they take something from this game and it makes them better as players,” he concluded, strongly