Youngsters suffer agonising defeat but Huzzey pleased with the efforts of the team.
Southend United U18s coach Dave Huzzey described himself as both “proud” and “disappointed” after watching his side lose 3-2 to Barnet at The Hive on Saturday morning.
“I’m proud, because today showed the pride the boys have got in themselves and the pride they feel playing for this club, but I’m disappointed that we lost the game. If that was a first-team fixture and you look at the score it says 3-2 and they’d have three points and we’d have none, so I’m proud of their performance, but disappointed in the result,” he declared.
Blues trailed 2-0 after an hour as Mathew Stevens and Shane Cojocarel gave the Bees the initial advantage, but they showed spirit to score twice inside ten second-half minutes through Harry Phillips and Brandon Scott to restore parity. Huzzey was impressed with the character that Southend showed to haul themselves level.
“I’m really disappointed in the result, but I’m proud of the boys for a lot of their performance in the game. They showed good desire and never laid down after going 2-0 down. They got it back to a level playing field at 2-2, and I’m just gutted that we didn’t push on from there,” he said.
“We balanced the game off at 2-2; it was either/or. We could’ve shut up shop, but we were really good, although I felt we let ourselves down a little bit because we could’ve kicked on at a point when we had the game in our hands. We could’ve scored the third; we did the defensive bit right, but with a bit more quality in the final third we’d’ve won the game.
“I’m proud of the boys for staying in it at 1-0 and for staying in it when we went 2-0 down. That was the best part of the game for me. We spoke yesterday and we had a bit of a game-plan because we knew they’d have a lot of possession of the ball. We’d played them three times this year and the stats showed that they had a lot more possession than us, even though we’d beaten them.
“It helped us that our shape was tight and they couldn’t play through us, but them nicking the goal meant that we had to step out. When they scored the second one, then we really had to step out and we did. We got two goals back, but I’m just frustrated we didn’t continue that after 70 minutes,” he added.
After a cagey opening 45 minutes, the second half came to life once Freddie Gard conceded a penalty that gave Barnet the opportunity to move two goals clear. In stark contrast to their previous performance at Watford, Blues were not deterred, and they could count themselves unfortunate when Kier Dixon scored the winner eight minutes from time following the fightback.
“We came out in the second half really well, and in the first ten minutes of the second half we pushed and probed and the lads did everything I asked. They nicked the goal, maybe against the run of play, and Fred’s convinced it wasn’t a penalty, although it looked to me like it might’ve been,” remarked Huzzey.
“Suddenly there was no risk factor then because we were losing the game. We expressed ourselves more. Our shape was still really good, but we had a bit more quality in the final third and got two good goals, and maybe Norman Wabo could’ve had a penalty, but we had our base. Our reaction in the second half was brilliant.
“The difference today was that, when we went 2-0 down against Peterborough, we folded, and when we went 2-0 down against Watford, we folded. We went 2-0 down against Barnet today and suddenly we were there, we were fighting for everything and getting in behind them and we had quality in the final third.
“We got it to 2-2 and I was telling the boys to relax because we were starting again, and we did that, but there was maybe a little bit of ill-discipline where we’re naive and young and think we’re going to go on and then they score. At 3-2 we still had chances with Norman and Brandon and Nico Cotton running in behind. At 3-2 we had chances to get a goal, but our best chance was at 2-2,” he concluded, ruefully.