Goals from Sonny Coutts and Damani Dias earn the points in the closing stages.
Youth team coach Dave Huzzey described Southend United’s 2-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon as “a step in the right direction” as goals from Sonny Coutts and Damani Dias earned the three points in the closing stages.
Blues were beaten 7-2 by Watford last Saturday, with the squad having previously conceded seven goals at
Peterborough United earlier in the campaign. AFC Wimbledon also inflicted a heavy defeat, 4-0, on the teenage Blues in the Youth Alliance Cup in late August, meaning that this narrow success was just the first stage on the road to redemption.
“It was a good performance. We stayed in the game, which is something we didn’t do last week, and we got our just reward in the end for the attitude and mentality of the some of the boys,” reported Huzzey.
“It’s brilliant to win, but it doesn’t rectify Peterborough, it doesn’t rectify the last time we played Wimbledon, it doesn’t rectify Watford last week.
“What it does is it shows that we are a team who can commit. After the result last week, the boys were in
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We’ve not had a day off and they deserved to be in all week for that performance.
“However, now they have shown us that they can take on information because we fed them loads of information about how we were going to change shape and so on, and hopefully they can kick on from here and go a little bit further forward.”
The Dons went ahead just before the half-hour mark through Dan Agyei, but Huzzey was encouraged by the resilience of the team to remain in the contest until final few minutes when Coutts and Dias intervened to add some potency in the final third of the pitch.
“We haven’t always stayed in the game this season and, after the goal when they went 1-0 up, a couple of heads dropped. I looked around and I wasn’t too impressed with the reaction straight away. But, after a little while, we got back into the game and, at half-time, everyone was confident enough to go again, and fair play to the boys because they did in the second half and we won 2-1.
“We can’t get carried away, though, because performances lately - and specifically last week - have not been good enough and that’s still fresh in everyone’s mind, so this doesn’t rectify anything. We know that, we’ll make sure the boys know that and we’ll make sure everyone at the club knows that. It is a step in the right direction and it is a slight reaction to what has happened,” he added.
“We weren’t great going forward today, I honestly believe that, but what we tried was playing a different formation with a 4-4-2 and a diamond in midfield, and I think it worked in some ways. A couple of the boys were a bit unsure because we’ve not played the system before and we’ve done a lot of work on it during the week, but going forward and breaking into the final third was OK.
“However, as soon as we got into the final third, I don’t think we were very good today, and that reflects in just three shots on target. We need to create more from a development side of things, and I don’t think when we get into the final third we’re confident enough and positive enough in and around the goal. That’s something
that’s got to get better if we’re going to go and beat teams and stay in games and score goals.”
Three players who were confident in that position late on were the two goalscorers, Coutts and Dias, and forward George Burton, who set up the winning goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Huzzey had positive words for all three.
“George Burton put in a great cross for the goal, but I thought he worked really well today. I don’t think he is a striker that is going to play up front on his own but, with somebody else, when he started linking up a bit with Norman or Nico from behind him, he was much better.
“I’m delighted for Sonny because he would have taken it as hard as anyone when we lost last week. He’s one of these boys that I can’t talk highly enough of; his attitude and his desire to win is excellent. If there’s anything that he’s unsure of, he’ll be the first to knock on my door and ask me, if there’s anything wrong with the team, he’ll be the first to drag them in and have a word with them.
“He’s one of those boys. It’s not a coincidence that he’s scored a goal like that, it’s because he’s always there and he always wants to do it and because his attitude is spot on. He got his just rewards today, and I’m pleased for him.
“The two goalscorers today have been two of our best players in the last couple of weeks. When I look at Damani Dias as an U16 coming in for the last four or five weeks now, I’ve been overly impressed by him. I think he has been absolutely brilliant.
“He has earned everything he is getting by being with the U18s and, in time we’ll see him grow and grow and
grow, but for an U16 to hold his own and not look one bit out of place in the U18s every time he plays is a big testament to him. It was great for him to get his goal and the two goalscorers deserved what they got,
not just through the football they played but through their attitude and the way they conduct themselves around the pitch.”