Coach pleased with great start to Merit League One season following 4-0 home victory.
Southend United’s youth team coach, Dave Huzzey, was delighted after watching the club’s U18s team start the Football League Youth Alliance Merit League One season with a 4-0 home win over Swindon Town.
“It was a brilliant start to the new campaign. I thought it was a very disciplined and defensively strong performance,” he beamed after Nico Cotton’s hat-trick and a further strike from George Burton on the stroke of half-time secured a comfortable victory over the visitors to Boots & Laces.
“Through Ben, our cameraman and the analyst, we got a bit of footage of them playing against Oxford United and from another game as well, so we knew a little bit about them. We knew the way they like to play, and they like to pass it out from the back, and I think it helped us a lot to have seen them,” Huzzey continued.
“Having spoken to their coach as well, he came down and watched us, so although we hadn’t played them, we knew a little bit of background about them and a little bit about how they liked to play. They don’t change their philosophy; they like to pass it and play and I respect them for that.
“They had a few chances throughout the game, but I think the performance we put in was really professional and the boys are starting to learn and grow into the game. They’re starting to realise what they’ve got to do with regards to understanding and game-management, and the game-management especially was spot-on.”
Blues had to weather a storm in the early stages of the match, and Swindon enjoyed a lot of opportunities during the opening period with the hosts indebted to goalkeeper Josh Bexon and his defence for keeping a clean sheet. Huzzey paid tribute to the back-line, whilst also praising the way the team attacked.
“We were really, really clinical. We always say that if we’ve got a defensive base to start with, then we can build on that, and that’s what we did. Every time we went forward we looked like scoring, and they did have quite a few chances to score, but Josh made a really good save to push a shot onto the woodwork, and that kept us in the game at 2-0 up,” he admitted.
“We then went and scored the third goal, and that was really important to put us out of sight. The next goal then was really important in the second half and we got it. They did have chances, and they were slightly unlucky not to convert one, but I wouldn’t take anything away from our boys because I thought they were class.
“It was a brilliant performance from Nico. It’s interesting because towards the end of the game Sonny Coutts was screaming at him and going mad at him about getting back in, and that just shows the passion and desire we’ve got in the team.
“Although Nico’s arguably won the game for us, Sonny was still on his back and we have to explain that you have to do that. Sonny’s goal is to keep a clean sheet, and he’s done that, Nico’s goal is to go and score goals and he’s done that, and I think that diversity in the squad produces performances like that.”
Blues now head to Watford on Saturday buoyed by an impressive start to life in Merit League One and full of confidence as they come up against a team that they last met a little under a fortnight ago. Huzzey is setting his sights high as the campaign progresses.
“One of the most pleasing things for me was the clean sheet against a team that were really dangerous on the break. The big centre-forward was a real handful in the first half, but we coped so much better with him in the second half after we spoke about doubling-up on him because he doesn’t move the ball so quickly. In the second half we dealt with him superbly with Sonny or Dan Matsuzaka or Ross Johnson being around him.
“I can’t say enough about their desire not to concede. They are so well-drilled with that desire, so massive credit to them because the back four, and Ross, and Joe Bedford, deserved it today. I thought Joe was class; he was so composed in possession and Ross did all the nasty bits that normally go unseen.
“We told the boys at the end of the game that they had played a really good side. The way Swindon played was brilliant, and it’s a shame we don’t get to play them again because we like these games. However, we’ve got another ten teams in the league that are going to be as good as that, if not better, and that’s perfect. You want to play the best teams week-in, week-out and now we’ve got a chance to prove how good we are. If we can keep this up then who knows what can happen,” he declared.