Youth coach wants to see improvement, but wasn't completely down in the dumps.
Youth team coach Dave Huzzey felt that there were positive signs from his team’s display at Milton Keynes Dons, but he still implored his squad to improve on some fundamentals of the game during a busy week.
Southend United U18s face AFC Bournemouth at home in midweek prior to a long haul down to Exeter City at the weekend, and they do so on the back of a 3-0 reverse at Milton Keynes. Huzzey saw improvements from the display against Luton Town seven days earlier, but he still acknowledged that there is much work to be done.
“I’m disappointed again,” he said.
“However, there were some positives in the game. It wasn’t like last week. We got a little bit of a reaction from last week, and there were spells in the game where we were on top and we were well in the game. The problem we’ve got at the moment is that we keep conceding goals and, every time we look like we’re getting back in the game, we miss our chances because we’re not scoring either.”
“When we concede, it changes the game massively so, defensively, we have to be better. We have to be set up soundly, especially when we’re trying to win the game. When it’s 1-0 and we’re still in it, we look fine, but as soon as we push again, we expose ourselves at the back and that’s what happened when they scored to make it 2-0, and that’s killed the game really. That was the most disappointing thing, and then the third goal came when we tried to push on again.”
Huzzey was impressed by the manner in which the hosts maintained possession and moved the ball around, but he felt that his team did not adapt to that well enough on Saturday: “I take nothing away from MK Dons because I really enjoy coming to play them. Even when you lose, the games are always brilliant and it’s a massive learning curve against them. The boys could learn a lot from teams like this.”
“However, that’s their style of play; that doesn’t suit everyone, and it doesn’t suit us. We just need to be better and more organised at keeping them out and when we get chances, like today when we had loads; we need to be scoring them. If you don’t take chances and you concede goals, you’re not going to win games.
“The base is that you can’t concede goals. But as much as I’ve said that, if I’m a centre-half I’d be saying that you’ve got to score them. This is the problem we’ve got, because Sonny Coutts and Dan Matsuzaka can’t moan at the centre-forwards for not scoring because they’re conceding; Norman Wabo, Dan Walker and George Burton can’t moan at the centre-halves for conceding because they’re not scoring.
“The midfield unit did alright; it did well in the second half when they coped much better. The two full-backs, I thought, did fine in the second half when they coped with the one-v-ones on the outside but, once again, we’ve missed chances. We’ve missed chances, and they’ve scored, we’ve missed chances and they’ve scored again, and suddenly the game’s out of sight and it’s happened too many times. It happened last week and then it’s happened again this week at 2-0, and we need to stop that.”
Despite that, Huzzey was pleased that his squad had learnt some lessons from the previous weekend’s defeat, and that they continued to adjust after listening to the coaching staff at half-time: “The only way we’re going to stop it is by stopping the goals going in, but the one thing they did better than last week was they took on information a lot better. At half-time we mentioned three clear points to them, and I can honestly say that all three points were achieved. I can’t ask for much more than that.
“It was definitely an improvement, but there’s still a long way to go. We had five or ten minutes in the first half where we were really sluggish, and then we were really good, keeping the ball and moving it and we did really well, but the goals kill us.
“In the first half they scored and then we got back in the game, and in the second half we started really well and once again they scored and that put paid to that. That’s going to be our biggest downfall as we carry on. We’ve got Bournemouth on Wednesday and Exeter on Saturday and it’ll be exactly the same; if we concede goals, it’ll put us out of the game.”
Huzzey concluded with some words of encouragement for Tottenham Hotspur’s Thomas McDermott, who filled in as a loan goalkeeper: “I thought Tom did really well considering he only found out this morning that he was playing. He’s a really nice boy, a Northern Ireland international, and I felt sorry for him as he hurt his hamstring because it’s a different style of football. He decided to go a bit longer, but fair play to him because his attitude and the way he applied himself was top quality, and he made some really good saves for us.”