Youth team admits Blues got fortunate against Gills after seventh successive win.
Dave Huzzey admitted that Southend United U18s were a little fortunate to extend their winning run to seven matches with a 1-0 home victory over Gillingham at the weekend.
Dan Walker continued his excellent goalscoring record this term with his eighth goal in his last four appearances for the club, but Blues were indebted to a second clean sheet of the campaign for goalkeeper Josh Bexon and his defensive unit for their narrow success against the Gills.
“I think we rode our luck a little bit, and it’s the first time I’ve said that this year,” conceded youth team coach Huzzey after the final whistle. “It seems like I say this every week, but the desire and the way the boys applied themselves – especially in the last ten minutes of the game – was top class.
“We were too sloppy, I thought, in the first half, but the game was in general. Both sides gave the ball away too easily, and it wasn’t like us. It didn’t look familiar, but when we settled down a little bit and started playing more passes in our own half, rather than rushing forwards, we were a lot better. Both teams got a lot better as the game went on with regards to technique and quality in possession.
“The boys said Gillingham were the best team we’ve played, and I wouldn’t disagree with that. I thought they were physical when they needed to be, but what was pleasing was that we matched their physicality. Both teams were professional, but it’s a credit to our boys that we came off the pitch winning 1-0, even though we were under the cosh for long spells of the second half.”
That they did so was in part due to Walker, who expertly steered a dropping ball over a stranded Gillingham goalkeeper on the hour mark to score the only goal of the game. Huzzey also praised Lewis Gard for an excellent performance in midfield, but it was the in-form front-man who took most of the plaudits.
“It’s unbelievable. The confidence he’s got at the moment is sky high, and I wouldn’t take anything away from the finish. The finish itself was brilliant, but the awareness to know where the goalkeeper was when the ball was in the air was top class, and it just shows that confidence he’s got,” claimed the coach.
“That’s what the best centre-forwards do; when they have that one chance, they score it. When I look back at the game, he didn’t have a lot to feed off; there were a lot of hopeful long balls into him, which I was disappointed with.
“When we started to get it down and play a bit we didn’t create a lot of clear-cut chances, but we did have 2 or 3 after going 1-0 up where I thought we could’ve scored, but then so did they, and especially the one at the end when the ball went over Josh’s head. I can’t believe he’s missed that, but fair play to the boys, they’ve ground out another great three points,” he added.
Blues travel to Peterborough United next week with Huzzey stating that he will always remember the 7-0 defeat Southend suffered in an early-season match at the Nene Park Academy last year. However, he is also certain that this squad will not suffer a similar fate as they seek to maintain their fine form.
“It will be tough. I’ll never forget about that game, losing and conceding the goals that we did, but I can assure you that won’t happen this year with this group of players and the way we’ve got them playing. It will be a tough game. Peterborough haven’t had the best results recently, but they’re always hard to beat and they’re a resilient side, so I’m looking forward to it. It’ll be good,” he concluded.