Youth coach delighted with win over the Cobblers as young Blues continue perfect start.
Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey hailed the club’s 3-2 victory over Northampton Town as “the most pleasing win we’ve had” after twice holding off Cobblers fight-backs.
Recalled forward Dan Walker put Blues 2-0 up with goals early in each half, but Shaun McWilliams halved the deficit with a close-range finish in the 55th minute. Then, when substitute Norman Wabo had restored Southend’s two-goal cushion, a late Ethan Lamptey penalty meant the visitors had to hold on to earn the three points.
The triumph represented a fourth straight success at the start of the season for Blues, and Huzzey was happy to extend the run at Moulton Agricultural College: “It was brilliant,” he claimed. “It was our first away game of the season in the league and I thought it was a really good performance in terms of effort, work-rate and honesty.”
“In the first half, I didn’t think we were good enough, and I told the boys that at half-time. I think we took it for granted how well we’ve been playing at the start of the season and we thought we were going to turn up and roll them over. We did score off a set-play, which we had loads of chat about in the week because of the size of Northampton, so it was pleasing to score off one of them given the work we’d done in training.
“I don’t think we were good enough in the first half, but we came out in the second and we got a bit of a reaction from the boys; they started to realise that they were going to have to work harder and match or beat Northampton’s work-rate to show our quality, and the biggest statement I can make is that, in the end, we did that. Winning 3-2 is a great result away from home,” he added.
Although the coach tempered his pleasure with frustration about the way that they had allowed Northampton back into the game, he felt that his squad deserved praise for their endeavours throughout the week. As a result, he was looking forward to working with the group again on the training ground this week ahead of Saturday’s home game against AFC Wimbledon.
“I am a little bit disappointed, and that’s something that we’ll review when we look back at the match. One thing I will say is that we’ve had three games in seven days - four if you include the friendly away to Sawbridgeworth that four of the boys were involved in - and we’ve won all four,” he beamed.
“I’ve said to the boys that, although there were loads of bad bits and we went ahead and they got back and that kept happening, I think this was the most pleasing win we’ve had. It’s been a really hard week, and a tough one for them, and they’ve ground it out.
“That’s something I didn’t know if this team had in them; I knew we had tremendous ability, tremendous flair and going forward we’re good, but I didn’t know if we had that toughness to grind out a result, and that’s something we did, which was class.
“This week is going to be a good week for us. The EPPP means that we have to have block sessions, and we didn’t get many in last week because the boys were either offloading from a game or loading up for another game, but next week gives us a full, clear week to work on the boys’ development and then on Saturday we’ll carry on working on their development throughout the game.”
“AFC Wimbledon will be a good side, they always are a good side, and it’ll be interesting to see if we can keep our run going for the next game. I keep telling the boys that you can only win your next game, don’t worry about the ones you don’t, and we’ll see how far we can go,” he said.
And Huzzey concluded by picking out the performances of some of his squad in their most recent fixture. Walker and Wabo grabbed the headlines with their goals, but further back defenders Abdul Salami and Elvis Bwomono also impressed, as well as first-year midfielder Lewis Gard.
“It’s a tough situation because we’ve got two very good forwards, but we’ve got 16, 17, 18 very good players in our squad, so it is hard to fit them all in. We played away at Sawbridgeworth in midweek and Dan got a hat-trick; he played the whole 90 minutes there and there was no way I could leave him out of the team. He proved that today because he was very, very good.
“Dan was instrumental in everything we did; all the pretty football, he created with the runs in behind. That’s how I see it, and he creates the space by running in behind for us to play in the little gaps with Harry Phillips, Lewis Gard, Renei Batlokwa and Joe Bedford.
“Dan Walker was brilliant, but then Norman was chomping at the bit sitting on the bench. He’s got the hump because he was on the bench, which was superb, and I think he maybe showed that with the celebration when he scored, but it was brilliant that he came on and, when he got that chance, the one thing he does at the moment is score, and hopefully he’ll do that throughout the season.
“I also want to say a massive well done to Abdul Salami today because he was absolute class against a number 9 that I think is a very, very good player. We had done a lot of work on him throughout the week. Elvis, again, at right-back, had an excellent game, winning everything down his side, and I think he was tremendous, and also Lewis Gard.
“I can’t not pick Lewis; he’s the first name on the teamsheet now, whereas at the start of the season we weren’t sure where we were going to fit him into our squad. In the last three games, there’s not a game gone by where his name hasn’t been put down first, and that’s the biggest compliment I can pay him.”