Southend United’s youth team coach, Dave Huzzey, felt that Blues produced one of their best displays at U18s level this season despite losing 2-1 to Milton Keynes Dons at Boots & Laces.
In a Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference match that arrived less than 48 hours after their 4-0 League Cup reverse against AFC Wimbledon, Southend took the lead through Nico Cotton before the visitors fought back to record a narrow success.
Huzzey felt that his charges took the game to their opponents and could have won had they taken their opportunities: “It was much-improved. I’ve told the boys that I’m pleased with their performance. We were undone in the last part of the game with the second goal, and the only frustrating thing is that we had so many chances to win the game.”
“The boys are gutted, and they should be gutted. Just because I’m pleased with the performance doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be gutted. They lost the game 2-1, and they should never be happy when they lose a game. However, from my point of view, they did everything we asked of them today,” he claimed.
“They haven’t redeemed themselves for the Peterborough performance, but they have shown they can take on information and they have played against a really good side in MK Dons who have a number of good individual players. It can be hard to play against them sometimes with their rotation and their movement.”
“We did a load of work with the lads on Friday about how we would deal with them playing out and they got it right. I’ve never seen an MK Dons side kick the ball long so much. They were still effective when they kicked it long, and we didn’t stop them completely, but it was pleasing for us that we pressed well.”
Blues have lost three of their last four fixtures, but Huzzey believes this was the best performance of the quartet, despite having defeated Northampton Town during that period: “We were better today than we were against Northampton, and we won that match 2-0. We’re developing young players; sometimes they go out and play off-the-cuff and win 5-0 and other times they go out and do everything you’ve said and lose 2-1.”
“That’s football and that’s development. This group of players are a technical bunch who want to play all the time, and they have got to learn when and where to do that. They take everything so literally, but they are young and we need to find a happy medium where they listen to what we say but they are still their own decision-makers,” he stated.
Ultimately, Huzzey felt that playing two matches inside three days influenced the final result and, with no League fixture scheduled next week, the professional development phase coach is looking forward to working with the squad on the training ground during the next fortnight.
“The boys came in on Friday, and to say they were dead on their feet is an understatement, but they’re young boys and they want to play football. If any of them had said that they didn’t want to play, then I’d have questioned their desire and passion to play the game, but in the last 15-20 minutes of the game, we did look a bit tired and maybe there was a bit of mental sloppiness.”
“However, I can’t take anything away from the boys because i thought they were good. In possession we looked threatening and we created 6 or 7 chances in the first half and 3 or 4 in the second when we should have scored. The result could quite easily have swung the other way. It didn’t, and we lost the game 2-1, which is another loss, but we have got some good players here, so we should be fine.”
“I think we’ll try to organise a friendly next week, but it won’t be two games in a week like we’ve had for the last two weeks. These boys need time now to get on the training pitch, especially after some of the results and performances we’ve had. It’s been hard.”
“For them, I think it’s perfect to have another game straight after a 4-0 defeat, but as coaches we could’ve done with a fortnight to analyse the game. Now we have a couple of weeks to have a look at things and get ready to go and play Cambridge,” he declared.