Blues U21's defeat Swindon Town to win the Final Third Development League South CupSouthend United’s Under-21’s claimed silverware at the County Ground as they defeated Swindon Town in the Final Third Development League South Cup Final.
A brace from Jamar Loza was enough to seal a 2-1 victory over the Robins and ensure the silverware was heading back to Essex.
Jack Bridge, fresh from his loan at Chelmsford City captained the side in today’s final, with first team squad members Luke O’Neill, Kevan Hurst, Franck Moussa, Jamar Loza and Jason Williams in the starting 11.
The first chance went to the hosts, when Marshall tried one of the half-volley from the edge of the box, but Blues keeper Bexon comfortably collected.
Two minutes later at the other end, Moussa dragged a shot which nearly fell perfectly for Jason Williams six yards out, but it was just out of the striker’s reach.
The opening exchanges were relatively even at the County Ground. Bridge did well to get to the by-line for Blues on 15’ but his cutback could only find Robin’s keeper, Henry.
Blues first real chance of the game arrived just after 20 minutes as Bridge set up Loza on the edge. The striker looked to curl one into the bottom right corner, but Henry did well to tip it past the post.
The wintry showers arrived as the game past its first quarter. As the snow subsided, Blues began to push the Robins high up the pitch, trying to force them into making errors.
Southend fashioned another on the half hour mark as Jason Williams glanced a header just past the post.
Jordan Williams then decided to get in on the act. The full-back showed pace and determination to drive into the box, cut in and fired just wide.
Blues wouldn’t have to wait long to take the lead though as Jamar Loza danced through the Swindon back-line before dinking over Henry superbly to give his side the lead in the final.
That goal appeared to wake the Town players up, and they looked to respond quickly as Cooke dragged one wide from the edge, and then Hylton cut in from the right before smashing one against the near post.
Jason Williams had a chance to make it two just before the half. The front-man connected with Hurst's corner but Henry got down well to his right to stop the header finding the net.
Half Time – Swindon Town U21 0-1 Southend United U21
Swindon were straight out the traps in the second perios and hit the post again. This time Iandolo going close with his left foot.
Blues then went close themselves on 50’ as Cotton got to the by-line. His low cross came out to Moussa who whipped one just past the far post with his right foot.
In overcast conditions Loza bagged a brace and put daylight between the sides after turning it in at the near post to make it 2-0 to Southend on 52 minutes.
Swindon made a double switch as they looked to get back in to it - Young and Lawal replacing Ormonde-Ottewill and Cooke.
The Robins started to press more past the hour-mark, but Blues with an abundance of pace look threatening on the counter.
The side were appealing for a penalty on 72’ as Lawal was sent tumbling down in the box - The referee said there was no wrong doing despite their demonstrations.
Marshall tried a speculative one from range for the hosts, but it was wide of Bexon's right-hand post on 76’.
The Final Third Dev League South Cup Final entered its last ten minutes with Blues leading Swindon Town 2-0 after a Loza brace; Robin's sub Smith tried one from distance but he couldn’t keep it down on 83’
Jason Williams went so close to wrapping it up for Blues as he saw his right-footed drive go narrowly over.
Substitute Harry Phillips had the ball in the Swindon net on 88 minutes, but it was ruled out for offside as Blues looked to kill off the tie.
A brilliant save from Henry denied Jason Williams from close range in stoppage time, before the Robins pulled one back through a Hylton half-volley in the area.
Blues held on strong though, and rightfully claimed the cup!
Southend United | Bexon, Williams, O’Neill, Salami, Kyprianou, Hurst, Moussa, Bridge ©, Loza, Cotton, Williams.
Subs | P.Smith, Norman, Johnson, Phillips, Mackenzie.
Swindon Town | Henry, Spalding, Ormonde-Ottewill , Traore, Frimpong, Calvin ©, Balmy, Marshall, Hylton, Iandolo, Cooke.
Subs | Stewart, Young, Evans, Smith, Lawal.