Read the report from Blues' latest game...Northampton Town U18s 1-6 Southend United U18s; EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference; Moulton College; Saturday 1st October 2016; Kick-Off 11:00am
By Robert Craven
Southend United U18s made it back-to-back victories with an impressive 6-1 triumph away to Northampton Town at Moulton College.
This was a second dominant display in succession for Dave Huzzey’s team, following last weekend’s 5-0 win at home to Peterborough United, and hoisted Blues into the top half of the EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference table for the first time since the end of August.
Goalkeeper Nathan Bishop was passed fit to return to the team in place of Harry Seadon in the only change from that success against Posh, and Southend wasted no time in taking the lead. Just three minutes had passed when Elvis Bwomono led a charge on the counter-attack and released Dru Yearwood, who fired home from ten yards out underneath the Northampton goalkeeper.
Whereas in their previous encounter Blues extended that advantage, this time they were pegged back just two minutes later. A dazzling left-wing run got a Cobblers attacker into a good position in the penalty area, and he squared the ball to Joe Iaciofano for a simple side-footed finish from close range.
After that frenetic start the two teams traded attacks, although a series of set-pieces punctuated the play. The visitors were pressing high up the pitch and putting pressure on Northampton when in possession, but Bishop still had to be alert to make a smart near-post stop in the 14th minute.
Lewis Gard’s heavy touch prevented him from getting a chance to convert a right-wing Bwomono centre, but Blues edged in front once again midway through the opening period. Gard was the provider, curling a free-kick devilishly to the far post, where Damani Dias got in front of Bwomono and Zak Pianim to stab home from four yards out.
This time Blues were in no mood to surrender their lead. Another Gard set-piece was nodded out to Harry Cuthbert, who dragged a shot wide from the edge of the penalty area in the 26th minute, and sixty seconds later Sewa Marah showcased his power and strength to drill the ball across the six-yard box, with no-one arriving at the back post for what would have been a simple finish.
The third goal arrived on the half-hour mark. Gard had scored twice in the Peterborough match, and he got his name on the scoresheet again thanks to a good run by Dias, who rode a challenge to push the ball through to the playmaker. Gard’s initial strike was saved, but the ball dropped back to the second-year scholar, who was alert to pounce on the loose ball ahead of a defender.
Gard could have quickly added a second goal to his tally but, after pressurising the goalkeeper, the custodian’s attempted clearance hit the visiting forward and bounced agonisingly wide. There was still time for a fourth goal before the break, however when Alex Clark and Dias cleverly moved the ball on to Marah, who crashed home via the underside of the crossbar from six yards out.
Blues went in at the break with a 4-1 scoreline behind them, and they flew out of the blocks in the second half with the intent of building upon that advantage. Within two minutes of the restart, they had done exactly that as Bwomono provided his second assist of the morning with a precise pass to Dias, who shifted the ball out of his feet before arrowing a shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The Cobblers custodian made a good save to hold a strong Clark shot above his head, but on 51 minutes Southend moved 6-1 up. It was indicative of the confidence of the away team that the goal was created by two defenders; left-back Yonis Farah found Pianim, who strode through midfield before picking out Gard and his low 12-yard shot was struck sweetly enough to beat the goalkeeper.
Huzzey made a series of substitutions in the middle section of the second half, giving Dan Humphreys, Tom Clifford, Ben Musselwhite and Imani Matthews an opportunity to impress as the heavens opened and a torrential shower made the pitch heavy.
Northampton enjoyed a rare attack in the 65th minute when a right-wing cross was nodded wide of the left-hand upright, but the final 20 minutes were largely incident-free. A stodgy pitch caused some players to pick up injuries, and the conditions were suddenly unconducive to attacking play, but Southend had already done enough to pick up the points. Cambridge United visit Boots & Laces on Saturday.
Southend United U18s: Nathan Bishop, Elvis Bwomono (Dan Humphreys, 55), Yonis Farah (Tom Clifford, 63), Harry Cuthbert (Ben Musselwhite, 63), Joe Mackenzie, Zak Pianim, Alex Clark (Imani Matthews, 70), Dru Yearwood, Sewa Marah, Lewis Gard, Damani Dias. Substitute not used: Eren Kinali.
Goals: Yearwood (3), Dias (23, 47), Gard (30, 51), Marah (42).