Huzzey thrilled as 100% record continues with win against Leyton Orient.
Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey has challenged his squad to make it four wins from four on Saturday after they defeated Leyton Orient 3-1 at Boots & Laces on Tuesday afternoon.
Blues had to battle hard against an impressive Leyton Orient outfit but, having taken the lead early on through Norman Wabo, second half finishes by Harry Phillips and skipper Abdul Salami ensured that Southend emerged victorious. Christian Owusu netted a late penalty for the visitors, who Huzzey believes will battling for honours in the Football League Youth Alliance South East Conference come January.
“I’m really pleased again,” he declared. “We have been talking, having won the first two, about whether can we win the first three, and now we’ll be asking if we can win the first four at Northampton. It was a brilliant performance from the boys. Were they as good in possession as they have been? No, I don’t think we were as good as we can be, but defensively we were tremendous.
“Today was all about putting your body on the line. That was the one thing that I didn’t know whether we had as much in the squad, but with Abdul Salami and Joe Mackenzie, and also Joe Bedford, Elvis Bwomono and Tom Clifford at the back, they were all putting their heads on the line and I thought they were class today.
“I went to watch Leyton Orient against Northampton on Friday, and I think that if we finish above them, then we’ll win the league. For me, they’re definitely going to be in and around the top positions, and they were a massive test for us today. It was a more professional test than Saturday, but a good test because they’re a good side,” he added.
Despite the relatively comfortable nature of the eventual scoreline, the contest was even throughout, and Southend had to dig deep to claim the three points. Huzzey was disappointed with elements of the first half performance, but pleased with the way that the side came out after half-time with renewed purpose.
“I wasn’t happy with the first half at all, if I’m honest. More than anything, it was the social side of things with them arguing and bickering amongst each other, and the one thing I’ve complimented this team on is how together they are. I was really disappointed in that, and I think the reason they did that was because they came up against a team that were quite good,” he mused.
“They were a little bit worried about that, and even though we were still the best team on the pitch, and we were definitely the best team on the day, I think they got a little bit worried because they weren’t playing their stuff. But the one thing that was evident in the second half was how together they were, and that’s what I wanted.
“People were throwing their heads on the line and their bodies in the way and Renei Batlokwa was coming back and tracking runners and picking up second balls with Harry Phillips and the wide men were tucking in, and even Dan Walker and Norman Wabo ran their hearts out up front, and that was superb.
“I said at half-time that we could kill the game within ten minutes, and it took us a little bit longer than that, but we did it. We weathered the storm; they were going to come at us, and they did. The timing of the goals, as they have been in all the games we’ve played, was brilliant.
“It has been key for us, especially when we’ve been up against it, and the third goal in particular was superb timing. Abdul got it, and I think that’s his first goal for the U18s. He completely deserves that because he puts in more work than anyone, and he’s got his rewards today.”
Huzzey concluded by mentioning those players who have yet to feature extensively in the first three games of the season, with his belief firm that they are fully playing their part in Southend’s impressive start to the 2015/16 campaign.
“I think the reason we’re so good this year is because every day in training they’re at it, and Joe Bedford knows that if he’s not on it one day, then Ben Musselwhite will start, because he’s good enough to do that, and Imani Matthews up top is good enough to play, and Tom Ripsher is capable of going in and taking a place.
“The thing that all the starting eleven, if we call them that, know is that if they slip up, there are players in the squad that can do that. We’re taking a lot of the first-year scholars and some of the U16s up to Sawbridgeworth on Wednesday night, and that’ll be a very good side.
“Some of these boys that are not involved are the reason we’re doing so well because they’re pushing them in every training session and it’s getting harder and harder for me and Rick to make the decision to leave them out or not. It’s a massive credit to them because I think they’re making us what we are at the moment,” he claimed.