Blues suffer first home defeat of the season.Southend United U18s 1-2 Leyton Orient U18s; EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference; Boots & Laces; Friday 26th August 2016; Kick-Off 2:00pm
By Robert Craven
Southend United U18s suffered their first home defeat of the season on Friday afternoon as Leyton Orient continued their 100% start to the EFL Youth Alliance campaign.
The O’s went into the match having not conceded a goal in the 2016/17 season, but despite Sewa Marah becoming the first marksman to breach the east Londoners’ defence, a brace from visiting forward Sam Dalby ensured that Blues suffered a 2-1 Boots & Laces reverse.
Youth team coach Dave Huzzey was able to give starts to central defender Zak Pianim, midfielder Ben Musselwhite and winger Alex Clark for the first time this term, with the latter two making their first appearances of the campaign after returning from injury.
Blues began brightly, but it was Orient that took the lead after a quarter-of-an-hour. Toby Stevenson and Pat Adamson had both gone close for the O’s by the time that Charley Barker’s quick free-kick released Steven Alzate and his pass was converted by Dalby.
Southend’s response was excellent, and the returning Clark made an instant impact as he cut the ball back from the right-hand side in the 17th minute and Marah had the simple task of tapping home his third goal in four games from close-range with his right foot.
“We went 1-0 down after 15 minutes, but Sewa equalised a couple of minutes later and I’m happy with how he has been playing this season,” said Huzzey. “He came up against two good centre-backs who were big and physical and, although he didn’t get much joy in terms of chances, he bullied them a little bit. He’s been a massive threat this season.”
“I was pleased with the reaction we got, because our heads didn’t go down after going behind. Sewa managed to get us straight back into it, and later on, when they went 2-1 ahead, the reaction was good again and we were on top for a while. It was a really disciplined performance.”
Tristan Abrahams forced Nathan Bishop to push a shot onto the crossbar later in the first half, and the same player crashed an effort against the woodwork early in the second period, but Orient eventually took the lead on 70 minutes when Dalby slotted in following a pass from skipper Barker.
Bishop made another stop to deny Abrahams late on, but Blues couldn’t force their way through the frugal O’s back line to secure an equaliser. “It was an eventful match, but we found it hard to capitalise on the chances that we created,” admitted Huzzey before paying tribute to Southend’s opponents.
“Orient were the best side we’ve come up against so far. I’d have them down to win the league, based on what we’ve seen, and it was nice for us to score the first goal that they have conceded this season. We did ever so well against AFC Wimbledon, not so well against Stevenage and then improved against Dagenham & Redbridge, and I think this game was a step in the right direction despite the result.”
“I was pleased with the way the boys put their bodies on the line, and I was also happy to welcome back the players that have been out injured. Zak was vocal and commanding at the back, and he was superb to be fair. Alex Clark also made an impression and Ben Musselwhite came in and did a good job in front of the defence, and we’ve missed them all,” he added.
“We’ve got Milton Keynes Dons next, and that will be a different challenge. Against Orient we came up against a well-organised team, but MK Dons will place more emphasis on the individual. It will be a hard test and we’re looking forward to it.”
Southend United U18s: Nathan Bishop, Elvis Bwomono, Tom Clifford (Yonis Farah, 52), Ben Musselwhite, Joe Mackenzie, Zak Pianim, Damani Dias, Harry Cuthbert, Sewa Marah, Lewis Gard (Dru Yearwood, 75), Alex Clark.
Goal: Marah (17).