Huzzey not taking anything for granted despite emphatic win at Barton Rovers.
Youth team coach Dave Huzzey was delighted to see Southend United U18s progress into the Second Round of The FA Youth Cup with a 9-1 win at Barton Rovers.
Blues triumphed to set up an away game against Newport County in the next round, and Huzzey was impressed with the way the squad prepared themselves and took up the challenge of having to defeat Barton for a second time at Sharpenhoe Road.
“I’m really pleased for the boys tonight, because it’s a different sort of test for them, having come here before and won 6-1 by dominating the game. It was hard to come back, and Barton gave us a different problem, especially in the first 10-15 minutes when they sat behind the ball, but we had worked in training on trying to switch the play nice and quickly to move their shape and find spaces in between,” he said.
“In the first 10-15 minutes we looked a bit worried, a bit panicked, and then we just slowed the game down, played at our tempo and quickened it up when we needed to, and I thought we were brilliant tonight.
“I think you could sense that we were a bit nervy, especially after 10 or 15 minutes when we hadn’t scored, and that was from the bench as well as from the players, but I thought the players were absolutely brilliant tonight with the way they conducted themselves and, after they got that first goal, they completely controlled the game.”
And, after struggling to put together a complete performance for 90 minutes during the past month, Huzzey took time to praise the way that Southend added five goals to their first-half haul of four: “Barton had a good game-plan, to be fair to them, to sit behind the ball and hit us on the counter-attack, and they nearly did that, but being 4-0 up at half-time took a little bit of a weight off the lads’ shoulders,” he explained.
“The second half performance was very good. At half-time we were positive with the boys, unlike at the weekend, because I thought we were really good in the first half, and I think we continued that. We carried on, even though we changed the shape to 4-4-2, but nothing changed in the boys’ ability to play and their standards. We were terrific.
“We did concede, and I will be having words about that, and our back-line, at times, got exposed a little bit because of the football that we were playing higher up the pitch but, as performances go, and as second half performances go, that’s the best one we’ve had in the last six weeks.”
There were five different goalscorers, with Harry Phillips netting a hat-trick, Norman Wabo and Dan Walker bagging braces and Renei Batlokwa and Damani Dias also contributing to the tally, and Huzzey was impressed with a number of members of the side. The coach is now seeking a repeat performance at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday before travelling to Newport next week.
“For me, tonight, I’d single out Harry Phillips; I thought he was brilliant tonight. Renei, coming back from injury, was superb and Joe Bedford was excellent, but for me the main one would be Dan Walker. His work ethic as a centre-forward was phenomenal,” he declared.
“He got his reward with goals, but more than his goals he set-up Norman Wabo, he set-up Damani Dias by being unselfish when he was on two goals and he could’ve got himself a hat-trick, and I thought he was absolute class tonight. Dan typified everything we needed from the game from our players. I’d like to say very well done to him tonight.
“Newport will be a different test. We know a little bit about them, just through speaking to people and going to watch them, but we’re solely concentrating on AFC Wimbledon because that’s our next game. That’s the most important game for us at this moment in time.
“We won’t take anything out of the preparation for them because of the Newport game. That gets forgotten about until Saturday night or maybe even Sunday morning, but for now we’ll concentrate on AFC Wimbledon and I’m sure the boys will be prepared in the right way for that game,” he concluded.