Huzzey pleased with what he saw from his troops following cup victory.
Dave Huzzey was proud of the way that Southend United U18s responded to last week’s defeat at the hands of Barnet to record a 5-2 victory over the same opponents in the Football League Youth Alliance Cup.
Braces from Norman Wabo and Harry Phillips, plus a fifth goal from Joe Bedford, saw Blues progress into the Southern Section Quarter-Finals of the competition, and youth team coach Huzzey was delighted with the way that the squad worked throughout the week to bounce back from their first loss of 2015/16 in the previous meeting.
“I’m really pleased and proud of the boys,” he declared. “I thought they implemented what we’ve done in the week excellently and took on the information that we’ve given them, and I think we’ve got our just rewards.
“Not just today but throughout the week it was all about work-rate and desire and how hard we had to work for our quality to then show through. It was evident in this game, especially with the fourth goal, where we worked tirelessly to win back possession, having worked tirelessly out of possession to get our shape, for our quality to then shine through. We were brilliant.”
The match was not without its adversity for the teenage Shrimpers, who trailed twice during the opening period despite playing well. Huzzey was impressed with the way that the side did not capitulate having fallen behind, especially after the manner of the defeat they had suffered to Barnet previously.
“I was disappointed because I thought we started quite well and we were probably the better side, so to go behind was disappointing. However, the character that the boys showed to get back in the game was class. We went behind twice, so to then go on and win the game 5-2 just showed the mentality we had,” he said.
“We showed unbelievable resilience to bounce back from that, especially the second goal where we conceded a penalty, but the boys just got on with it and came in 2-2 at half-time. As soon as we got in level, I thought we were there. I think we edged the first half, but in the second half we got our just rewards for the hard work from the first half.
“They were better than us last week because they worked harder than us, and that’s a fact, so the moral of the week was that if we don’t match them in work-rate, then we definitely weren’t going to win the game. Today we’ve matched, if not beat, their work-rate, and that’s why our quality showed through.”
Huzzey also gave an insight into the mindset currently evident at Boots & Laces as he described the desire they possess to emerge victorious as well as develop players for the football club: “We drilled it into the boys that we weren’t happy. This is no disrespect to Barnet, because they’re a good side, but we’re not happy to draw against teams like Barnet, or lose against teams like Barnet, or anyone in this league.”
“When you do score a goal, you have to crack on again, and the good thing for me was that, when we conceded a goal, we went and got the ball out of the goal, and when they conceded, it wasn’t like that. Maybe they came with a different mentality to us, but I was over the moon, and I think the fourth goal summed the game up for us.
“It summed the week up for us, and I’d even go so far as to say it summed the season up because some of the football we’ve been playing has been the best I’ve seen from any youth team side at Southend United, or any youth team side that we’ve played against. That’s not just coming from me, that’s from talking to other clubs and scouts; they’re saying the same thing.”
“The disappointing thing is that, last week, we didn’t show that. There were a lot of fans that came over that were going to the first-team home game afterwards, and I don’t think they got a true reflection of the youth team that day because of how we played and how we were mentally and how we didn’t really match what Barnet had, but today we showed what quality we’ve got because of the desire and the hard work.”
And the coach felt that the display against the Bees was potentially the best so far in 2015/16 ahead of a meeting with table-topping Luton Town next week: “Reflecting, ten minutes after the game, I think it probably was our best performance of the season. It was the most realistic in the fact that it was like a first-team game, and it always is against Barnet because they’re a good side and they work double-hard and we had to then match that.
“We played Luton pre-season and they’re quite a big, physical side. It’ll be interesting because the U21s have got them here on Tuesday and, because of the JPT, I expect they’ll be a few youth team players playing, so it’ll be brilliant to see the U21s and then the U18s go against one of the best sides in our category,” he predicted.