Read the report from Blues U18s latest game...Southend United U18s 1-4 Barnet U18s; EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference; Boots & Laces; Saturday 17th September 2016; Kick-Off 10:30am
By Robert Craven
Southend United U18s were beaten 4-1 at home by Barnet in their latest EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference clash, despite the teams sharing the first-half spoils thanks to Tom Clifford’s strike.
Youth team coach Dave Huzzey made a number of changes to the team which had suffered defeat by an identical scoreline at AFC Bournemouth in the EFL Youth Alliance Cup seven days previously as Taylor Curran, Dru Yearwood, Emile Acquah and Eren Kinali all came into the starting eleven. Schoolboy goalkeeper Harry Seadon continued between the posts in place of the injured Nathan Bishop.
Blues made a bright start to the game at a gusty Boots & Laces, and Damani Dias spurned the first chance to open the scoring in the seventh minute when his near-post header from an inswinging Clifford corner was directed the wrong side of the right-hand upright.
However, Barnet took the lead against the run of play two minutes later. The visitors had been stalled in an attack by a foul on the edge of the penalty area and, although Seadon made a good initial save to keep out Ephron Mason-Clark’s set-piece, Roy Syla pounced on the loose ball to sweep home the rebound and make it 1-0 from close-range.
Southend were unperturbed by this setback, and Dias and Kinali soon combined to set up Dru Yearwood. He made the most of the neat interchange, hanging up a cross into the six-yard box that was claimed well by custodian Charlie Busby. In the 17th minute, a Ben Musselwhite free-kick was planted wide by Curran, who had risen above the defence to meet the delivery.
The hosts continued to attack, and they were unfortunate not to level the scores midway through the opening period through skipper Elvis Bwomono. Musselwhite had sent a left-wing corner to the far post, where Bwomono controlled the ball before drilling his shot against the base of the left-hand upright. Seconds later, the full-back met a Clifford flag-kick, but could only direct a header into Busby’s gloves.
There was no let-up for the Bees, and Bwomono caused more mayhem in the 28th minute when he nodded down a corner and neither Dias nor Acquah could get a telling touch to the ball to divert it home as it flashed across the face of goal.
A Bwomono cross had to be clawed away from goal by Busby in the 34th minute, with the young shotstopper colliding with the post in the process. After a lengthy spell of treatment, he was passed fit to continue, but he was soon picking the ball out of the net as Yonis Farah’s forceful run culminated in Clifford rifling home into the bottom right-hand corner to equalise.
The goal was no more than Blues deserved for their efforts in the first half, although they were indebted to Yearwood for making a crucial block to keep out a Mason-Clark attempt of the stroke of the interval. That served as notice that Barnet were full of confidence, and Mason-Clark hit Southend on the counter-attack within sixty seconds of restart, drawing a fine stop from Seadon.
The Bees eventually moved ahead for the second time in the 47th minute. Predictably, Mason-Clark was the scorer, getting the wrong side of Curran to latch onto a high ball forwards and advance on Seadon’s goal, leaving the gloveman with no chance as he blasted home.
Central defender Zak Pianim glanced a header wide from a Musselwhite corner in response, but Seadon was swiftly brought into action again as he was forced to head clear outside his penalty area in the 53rd minute. A couple of minutes later he was left with no chance as Mason-Clark doubled the advantage, and his personal tally, after controlling a right-wing throw and firing in from ten yards out.
To their credit Southend continued to push forward after this double blow, and Yearwood nodded wide after pulling away from his marker at the back post. The midfielder soon showed his frustration, though, smashing wide from distance shortly after the hour mark. Sewa Marah had been introduced in place of Acquah, and he was inches away from connecting with a Dias centre before nodding a Clifford corner wide.
Midway through the second period the woodwork came to Barnet’s rescue again, with Bwomono the unfortunate party for a second time. Musselwhite had smartly dinked the ball into the defender’s path and his skidding shot had Busby beaten, only to ricochet off the right-hand post.
Within seconds, Marah had failed to convert an excellent opportunity as a route to goal opened up for the substitute and he raced into space but could only sidefoot towards a diving Busby. He then turned provider, unselfishly finding Dias for a searing 25-yard strike that flew inches over.
A Clifford free-kick was blocked out to Musselwhite, who drilled his shot at Busby, and Blues were made to pay in the 78th minute when Barnet sealed the three points with a fourth goal. Rio Connell was the scorer, making the goal himself with a left-wing run that culminated in a confident finish beyond Seadon. Blues host Peterborough United on Saturday seeking an upturn in fortunes.
Southend United U18s: Harry Seadon, Elvis Bwomono, Yonis Farah, Ben Musselwhite (Lewis Gard, 81), Taylor Curran, Zak Pianim, Damani Dias, Dru Yearwood, Emile Acquah (Sewa Marah, 52), Eren Kinali (Imani Matthews, 77), Tom Clifford. Substitutes not used: Callum Calder, Dan Humphreys.
Goal: Clifford (39).