Youth team coach Dave Huzzey was pleased to see Southend United U18s put in another good performance during a draw away to Luton Town.
Brandon Scott put the Shrimpers in front after just six minutes, and Huzzey felt that the first half display in particular exemplified the way that the club want to play the game despite the eventual result: “I’m a little bit disappointed again for the boys, and I guess it’s the same story again as after the Barnet game, but I think we played a lot better today.
“In the first half, I think it was one of the best performances we’ve had all season. We went 1-0 up and we really played well, passing through the thirds and playing out from the back; it was exactly what the club’s philosophy is.
“It’s a shame in the second half that we couldn’t hold on for the victory, but it’s one of those games where we talk about development and there are going to be games where we’re happy even though it seems like we lost it. We drew the game because of the performance, and I thought the performance was good,” he claimed.
Blues were pegged back during the second period and, although Huzzey believed that Luton were always capable of scoring, he was a little surprised that his team didn’t make better use of the slope after the interval: “We went in at half-time and I think we knew as coaching staff that one goal wasn’t going to win the game as Luton had a threat up front.
“We could have been a bit more clinical in front of goal in the first half, but if you don’t score and you don’t take your chances against a team like Luton, who were a good side again today, then they’re going to punish you. Although we defended well, they always looked like they had a goal in them.
“At the start of the game, I fancied us for the second half because of the slope, but it proved to be wrong in the end. It probably didn’t transpire because they’ve played on that pitch a lot more times than we have, but we did think that it might work in our favour.
“The first half we thought was going to be a bit harder because we were playing up the hill, and we kept it really well. In the second half, I thought we’d use Nico - who did really well up front - and I thought it would be brilliant for him because of the space in behind.
“He’s a quick lad, and I thought we could exploit that space in behind, but it didn’t work that way. I think they dropped off because they knew we had the pace and they put a little bit of pressure on the ball as well, so it was hard for us to do that.”
However, Huzzey was happy to see involvement for some younger members of the squad ahead of next week’s trip to Watford: “If we look at it from a first-team point-of-view, we’d be over the moon with a point away from home and a performance that matched that. The most pleasing thing is some of the players that are playing and the individual performances they have put in,” he added.
“Jordan Williams got injured at right-back and we brought on Abdul Salami, who has not played a lot in the last month, but he came on at right-back, out of position, and I think he did fine. He was strong, he was physical and he didn’t let anyone get in behind him. He also played well when he had the ball at his feet where we’ve got a little bit of a question mark on him, but his technique was fine today.
“Also, Harry Phillips came off injured in the second half and we brought on Damani Dias, who is a schoolboy, and he has been absolutely brilliant for us. At the moment, he’s getting picked for us because of his performances with us and that’s quite something, being an U16 playing in an U18s game.
“It’s pleasing that we’re having players like Damani, Ryan Bushnell, Jordan Lawrence-Gabriel when he gets his chance, Tom Clifford, Cameron John, all coming up to the youth team and having an effect on us. It’s pleasing from a coach’s point of view that we’ve got playing coming in that are younger or playing out of position but are doing very well.
“I think Watford will be a different test for us. They’ve had some weird results, but they’ll always be strong and it’ll be a tough one. As long as we can perform like we did today, I fancy us against anyone. Although we didn’t get the victory that we wanted today, I was really pleased with the performance that we put in, individually and collectively, the attitude and everything about the game.”