Dave Huzzey frustrated as Blues go down to Stevenage U18s 3-1.
Southend United’s youth team coach Dave Huzzey pulled no punches after watching his side lose for the first time in 2015, 3-1 against Stevenage, at Boots & Laces on Saturday morning.
Blues’ Youths had kept clean sheets in both of their first two matches of the New Year, against Gillingham and Barnet, but they fell behind in just the third minute of their first home game of 2015 and within a quarter-of-an-hour they were 2-0 down. Ross Johnson’s penalty six minutes before the break gave Southend hope, but a Stevenage spot-kick twelve minutes from time sealed their fate.
“I’m really disappointed; more than disappointed for the boys, I’m disappointed in the boys,” declared Huzzey. “There have been weeks before where we haven’t got what we deserved, but we got what we deserved today, not through footballing ability but through mindset, attitude and everything you would expect to be instilled in them already. We just didn’t show that today.”
Huzzey refused to make excuses after a tough week that had seen Blues defeat league leaders Barnet on Tuesday, adding: “These boys want to be top footballers, so if they’re worried about playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday then they should give up and start again. I don’t think it was that. The pitch didn’t help, but Stevenage played on exactly the same pitch as we did and they dealt with it a lot better than us.”
“There was sloppiness, even before the game. We were on a big roll and everyone was really happy around the ground, but when we went 1-0 down we just looked like we were going to fold. That’s the problem with this team at the moment. Maybe it’s their age, and that could play a part in it, but there are second years in that group that you expect to stand up and fight and push us over the line to get another goal and kick on, and they didn’t today. I’m really disappointed in them.”
Despite a poor start to the encounter, Southend halved their deficit at the interval when skipper Johnson stroked home a 39th minute penalty, but the hosts couldn’t maintain their momentum, and that frustrated their coach: “The problem for me was, when they came off for half-time, they were just flat,” he revealed.
“Even though we’d got one goal back in the game and we looked like we’d got the momentum to go on and score another one, they were flat as they came off. That killed the game. We still could’ve gone on and got something, but I think it was a silly tackle from Abdul. It was a penalty, and we’ll be speaking to him about that.”
“The most disappointing thing about it was that, in the last two games against Gillingham and Barnet I don’t think you’ll see better performances from our team, and now I don’t think you’ll see a worse performance. We were so scrappy and we played into Stevenage’s hands.
“Don’t take anything away from Stevenage because they played to their strengths, but I think we gave them a couple of goals and it’s embarrassing for the calibre of players we’ve got in this squad. Playing at that level is not good enough,” he remarked.
The 3-1 scoreline was identical to the August meeting between the teams in Hertfordshire, and Huzzey concluded by vowing that the squad would be working on the mental side of their game as they attempt to end the first part of the season well against Leyton Orient and Watford.
“When they got the penalty to go 3-1 up it was like déjà vu because the captain scored the penalty at their place. They are a bogey team, but if the boys want to be professional footballers, they can’t have bogey teams. They’ve got to go out and improve and be mentally strong, and that’s something they weren’t today.”
“The biggest thing I’ve learnt from today is that I don’t think it is technical ability or tactical ability or the way they play the game that has stopped them winning that game; it’s the mental attributes that have killed us. I think the boys need to know that, and they will get to know that.”
“We’re looking for a massive reaction now. We’ve got two games that we’ve got to win; Watford beat us 7-2 last time we played them, so we need a reaction from the boys to that, especially after this. They’ll get to know what they’ve done wrong because it wasn’t good enough. Myself and Rick will tell them that, and we’ll hope to get a reaction next week,” he said.