Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey was left frustrated by a lack of quality as Blues U18s drew 0-0 at Northampton Town on Saturday morning.
Neither team could break the deadlock during the ninety minutes and Huzzey found it difficult to find any positives from the performance as the teams had to settle for a share of the spoils: “It was nowhere near good enough,” he declared.
“We changed shape last week, and we worked loads on that shape, and we’re on an attacking block at themoment so we’ve done loads on finishing but, if you haven’t got the quality in the build-up play, and you haven’t got the quality on the pitch - and by quality I mean five- or six-yard passes that were going astray and sloppy, sloppy passes all over the pitch from the goalkeeper to the centre-forwards - then what we’ve worked on throughout the week wasn’t worth it.
“There was just no quality on the pitch from ourselves and we were lucky that, for me, and I hope I’m not speaking out of turn here, both teams were of a similar mould. If we’d’ve played Northampton on another day, they could’ve scored two, and I think they’d say the same about us, but I’m really disappointed because that hurts us as much as the games where we get beaten by four or seven. The performance wasn’t good enough.
“From a first team point-of-view, if we were a first team and we’d’ve come away to Northampton, got a 0-0 draw, defended OK and kept a clean sheet, then I’d be saying well done to the boys, but that performance wouldn’t get any of those lads into the first-team, and that’s the key,” he added.
Huzzey and Academy Manager Ricky Duncan attempted to change things after half-time, switching to a 4-3-3 formation from the diamond that had proved to be successful against AFC Wimbledon, but the coach felt that the underlying lack of quality meant that it failed to make a difference.
“We could’ve changed the shape six or seven times in this game and nothing would’ve changed because the quality wasn’t good enough. We like to play the ball out, and that’s the philosophy of the football club, but we’re going to have to make sure the players can do it,” he said.
“I don’t doubt this bunch of players, and I’m not saying they’re not good enough because they definitely are, but that’s the frustrating thing about it. We’ve got a group of players that we know are good enough to pass the ball around because we see it every day in training, we’ve seen it in the U16s and we saw it last year with the first-year scholars, and then today the sloppiness and lack of quality was so evident.
“We made a rod for our own backs because we kept giving the ball away and that’s how Northampton got onto the back of us, but the positive is a 0-0 away from home and a point; the negative is that the performance wouldn’t get any of those boys into the first-team and that’s what we’re here for.”
Blues did manage to stand firm defensively to pick up a clean sheet, but Huzzey still felt that the performance at the back could have been improved upon, and revealed that there would be more hard work during the week ahead of the visit of Peterborough United to Boots & Laces on Saturday.
“I’m happy we kept a clean sheet; they’ve got two good centre-forwards who are dangerous and I expect them to go far, so I’m happy with that side of things because our two centre-halves dealt with them quite well,” he claimed.
“With the amount of times we gave the ball away, and the amount of times they drove at our back four, we did defend well. I call it ‘defending in possession’ and that just means keeping the ball, and that’s the thing that’s frustrating more than anything. Defensively, I’m happy that it’s a 0-0, but I still think we could’ve done better throughout the game.
“We’re trying to keep the players’ minds off The FA Youth Cup, and that plays a part every year, and we’ve got Peterborough next week. It’s nothing like going out there for revenge, because that’s not what we’re about. We’re about going out and competing with Peterborough, which we didn’t do last time we played them.”
“The boys have got a point to prove, but we need to manage that correctly. It will be a load of hard work; they are still in on Sunday following on from the Watford game, and the performance today wasn’t anywhere near good enough, so our week will, hopefully, be about getting a bit of quality into our game,” Huzzey concluded.