Blues record convincing victory over Posh...Southend United U18s 5-0 Peterborough United U18s; EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference; Boots & Laces; Saturday 24th September 2016; Kick-Off 11:00am
By Robert Craven
Southend United U18s returned to form in style with a 5-0 win over Peterborough United at Boots & Laces to register their first victory since the opening day of the season.
Blues went into the match on the back of successive 4-1 defeats, against AFC Bournemouth and Barnet, but a clinical display saw the teenage Shrimpers record the result that their domination deserved courtesy of goals from Sewa Marah, Alex Clark and Damani Dias, plus a brace by playmaker Lewis Gard.
For youth team coach Dave Huzzey, the goals from Marah, Clark and Gard were vindication of the decision to restore the trio to the starting line-up at the expense of Emile Acquah, Eren Kinali and Tom Clifford. Harry Cuthbert and Joe Mackenzie also came back into the team and contributed fully to the display, with Ben Musselwhite and Taylor Curran dropping to the substitutes’ bench.
Southend wasted little time in taking the lead as forward Marah made his way onto the scoresheet in just the seventh minute. The goal showcased the team’s purposeful nature with Dru Yearwood driving through the centre of midfield before picking out the right-wing run of Clark. The flanker delivered a cross to the back post and, when a defender failed to clear, Marah swivelled to crash home on the half-volley.
The powerful front-man was at the heart of all Southend’s early play, and a towering header from Elvis Bwomono’s right-wing cross was clawed away at the last moment by the goalkeeper in the 11th minute before he battled hard for possession on the quarter-hour mark to find Dias. He moved the ball on to Yearwood, who unleashed a drilled 20-yard strike that flew marginally the wrong wide of the right-hand post.
Midfielder Yearwood, who had been praised for his performance against Barnet, was at his energetic best again this weekend, and constant pressurising in the 24th minute broke up one Posh attack before a rare anxious moment for the hosts saw first Yonis Farah and then goalkeeper Harry Seadon scramble goalbound efforts off the goal-line following a corner.
Schoolboy shotstopper Seadon immediately set Blues away on the attack, and Dias thought he had doubled the advantage after 27 minutes when he latched onto Marah’s flick-on to bundle the ball past the goalkeeper. However, he was thwarted by the assistant referee’s flag, and Marah was soon denied by a defender’s block before Cuthbert hooked over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.
On 33 minutes Cuthbert and Yearwood combined to release Dias, whose cross was nodded over by Marah, rising above his marker once again to connect from close range. Three minutes later, Blues were 2-0 up as Dias was brought down on the right-hand edge of the penalty box and play was quickly switched to Clark on the left. He darted inside and delivered a strong shot that the Posh custodian could only push into the net.
It looked like it would stay that way until half-time as Southend sought to see out the remaining nine minutes, but a late Peterborough free-kick was the surprising prelude to the third goal. Yearwood collected the delivery at the far post and raced away from danger, eventually picking out the supporting run of Gard thirty yards from goal, and he took the ball on a little further before side-footing home.
The visitors made three substitutions at the interval, whilst Blues were unchanged, but it was Southend who started the second period strongly as Yearwood tracked along the edge of the penalty area before shooting over. Dias then led a counter-attack out of his own half, beating the full-back but failing to force the ball beyond the goalkeeper at his near post.
Clark saw a dangerous cross tipped onto the crossbar after more industrious play by Marah, but a poor free-kick allowed Peterborough to break, and a near-post header was directed inches wide. However, Blues were unperturbed, and a fourth goal arrived on 56 minutes. Seadon’s booming goal-kick bounded downfield and Gard squeezed between two defenders to control the ball and round the goalkeeper.
The next attack saw Clark fire marginally wide of the far post before being replaced by Eren Kinali and Gard was also withdrawn, with Tom Clifford introduced, just after Dias had flashed wide from Marah’s pass. Nonetheless, Dias finally made it onto the scoresheet midway through the second half when Clifford teed the ball up for Marah and he moved it on to his team-mate for an unstoppable 25-yard strike.
Imani Matthews and Taylor Curran also made late cameos, but Southend’s work had largely been completed with over 20 minutes remaining. Seadon saved well at the legs of a forward on 73 minutes, and Kinali went close in the final seconds, but Blues head to Northampton Town next Saturday in high spirits after a five-star performance.
Southend United U18s: Harry Seadon, Elvis Bwomono, Yonis Farah, Harry Cuthbert, Joe Mackenzie, Zak Pianim, Alex Clark (Eren Kinali, 59), Dru Yearwood, Sewa Marah (Taylor Curran, 76), Lewis Gard (Tom Clifford, 65), Damani Dias (Imani Matthews, 69). Substitute not used: Ben Musselwhite.
Goals: Marah (7), Clark (36), Gard (45+1, 56), Dias (66).