Coach wants to see more from his side following third consecutive defeat.
Southend United U18s coach Dave Huzzey called for his side to show more character after watching them lose 2-0 to Luton Town at Boots & Laces.
Goals either side of the half-time break by Daril Ngwala and Osamu Allman inflicted a third straight Football League Youth Alliance Merit League One defeat on Blues, whose day was made worse in stoppage time when substitute Dan Walker was dismissed for violent conduct.
“I’m disappointed again,” reported Huzzey. “I think we were in it until the second goal and, when they got that, too many heads dropped, too many players left us and too many players weren’t playing any more, and I think that had a massive effect on the game.”
“The worrying thing was that there were three or four players out there that didn’t show up after the goal, and that can’t happen if they want to make it into the first-team; whether they’re 2-0 down or 4-0 down, they’ve still got to work for this football club. I was disappointed with a couple of them because I don’t think they did that.”
“We were missing characters on the pitch. I’m not talking about individuals, but as a team we were missing characters. We had no-one out there to say, ‘This isn’t happening, we’re not going to let this happen, we’re going to drive on.’ Everyone looked at each other and looked around at the bench. It shouldn’t be coming from us; it should be coming from them.”
“If they want to win games, they have to motivate themselves and motivate each other, and I don’t think they did that well enough. With the quality we had on the pitch, and the boys we had out there, it shouldn’t worry us if three or four players are missing. We’ve got a good squad, but socially it did worry us,” he added.
Both Hatters goals came about as the result of Southend errors, with Ngwala not closed down on the edge of the penalty area for the first and goalkeeper James Macree then unable to clear after passing the ball short to Emmanuel Adeyeye in the lead-up to the second, and Huzzey declared that those mistakes had to be cut out if the players are to progress.
“I said to the boys before the game that if they made any mistakes playing out, then that’s our fault because we ask you to do that. At the start of the second half, I said to James Macree as he went back onto the pitch that he’d have to start kicking it as they were pressing really high, and he didn’t do that.”
“In that first 10 minutes he was supposed to kick it to draw the defence out to spread the game so we could start playing again. It’s a learning curve for James, it’s a learning curve for the back four and it’s a learning curve for myself, but I feel like we make too many mistakes like that and too many times we come off the pitch saying, ‘If it wasn’t for this mistake or that mistake we wouldn’t conceded seven at Peterborough or seven at Watford.’”
“It’s the story of our season so far, and for us to get better and for the players to get better individually, we’ve got to start cutting them out else it will cost them. It’s costing them in the league, and it will cost the players eventually if they don’t do something about it now,” he predicted.
However, despite his frustrations, Huzzey concluded by stating that he was pleased that the team were challenging themselves against the best Category Three Academies in the south of England, with three tough tests on the road coming up in the form of away matches against Milton Keynes Dons, Exeter City and Peterborough United.
“I’m disappointed, and I was disappointed last week and the week before that but, without being disrespectful, I would rather be disappointed in Merit League One than playing in Merit League Two and winning by five or six. We want a test, and although we’re disappointed, this is where we want to be.”
“Luton were good. I thought they had some really good individual players and, as a team unit, we found them very hard to break down. It gives us a challenge, rather than beating a team that doesn’t give us a challenge. As much as I am disappointed that we lost this game and didn’t perform as well as we can, I’m happy that we’re involved in this league,” he said.