Southend United U18s slipped to a 3-0 defeat against Peterborough United at the Mick George Academy with the visitors running in three unanswered goals during the second half...
Posh also struck the woodwork on three occasions - twice in a competitive opening period and then again late on - to underline their claims for a deserved victory. Andrea Borg, Josh Davison and Mohammed Hamza were on target for the hosts as Blues were beaten for the fourth time in the EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference this season.
Nathan Bishop's call-up to the substitutes' bench for the first-team at Fleetwood Town meant that Harry Seaden was named in goal for Dave Huzzey's side in Orton Longueville. The only other change saw Eren Kinali replace Miles Mitchell-Nelson, with Zak Pianim reverting to a centre-half role.
Posh hit the crossbar in just the third minute of the encounter through Borg, who consistently looked dangerous when cutting back onto his left foot from the right-hand side. The attacker drifted inside Ide Osimeh and curled against the top of the bar to signal an early warning to Huzzey's charges.
Two minutes later Peterborough went close again as Harry Brooke's fired narrowly over from a Hamza pass, but Blues responded in the seventh minute when Matt Rush dragged a 25-yard effort narrowly wide of the left-hand upright. Southend also forced a couple of corners, which were easily dealt with, as the pace of the game slowed.
Blues began to get their passing game going, and midway through the opening period Terrell Egbri brought the ball out of defence before finding Kinali on the right wing. His pinpoint centre was diverted over by Emile Acquah, who was looking to add to his seven goals this season.
Egbri also drove a shot into Lewis Elsom's gloves on the half-hour mark following an Acquah knock-down, but Posh still appeared threatening in attack and, despite Taylor Curran nodding a cross clear and Zak Pianim effecting a block, a snapshot was still fired narrowly over by the hosts.
On 34 minutes Peterborough rattled the frame of the goal for a second time. Curran committed himself to a foul 30 yards out and full-back Lewis Freestone turned his shot against the base of the right-hand post. A couple of minutes later Curran missed a tackle in midfield and Dan Humphreys was required to cover and block off a Borg run.
Jon Benton and Rush combined five minutes before the break to find Osimeh on the left flank, with his cross just eluding Acquah's back post run, and Egbri then latched onto a Harry Cuthbert pass before smashing off-target when afforded the space to shoot from 25 yards out.
The half ended with Brookes bearing down on Seaden's goal before blasting wastefully over, but his team-mates would not be so profligate after the interval. Despite that, Blues could have opened the scoring three minutes after the restart when Egbri and Rush both eschewed the chance to shoot following Cuthbert's pass, with Egbri eventually firing straight at Elsom.
Posh nodded wide from a right-wing cross shortly afterwards, and Seaden made a superb save from Borg in the 58th minute when he attempted to slot home from close-range, but the home side were not to be denied and Borg made no mistake sixty seconds later as he dribbled inside from his right flank berth and calmly dispatched his shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Blues sought a swift reply, and Cuthbert pulled an effort wide from a Benton pass, but they were indebted to Seaden in the 62nd minute when the England U17 international denied Hamza after he had outjumped Curran and raced clear of the Southend back-line.
Unfortunately there was nothing Seaden could do to prevent Posh from doubling their lead in the 64th minute. A goal-kick was nodded back towards the Blues goal and Davison found the same spot in the Southend goal as team-mate Borg had picked out five minutes previously.
The teenage Shrimpers received a let-off on 70 minutes when a misplaced Cuthbert pass allowed a forward to advance on goal, but he smashed over and instead it fell to Hamza to add a third goal inside a quarter-of-an-hour when he controlled a long ball out of defence and gently lifted his shot over the advancing Seaden.
Blues at least steadied the ship after that and Acquah could have notched a consolation six minutes from the end when his stinging shot was beaten away by Elsom, with Benton angling the follow-up wide. Rush also curled off-target from a Kinali centre, although Peterborough almost had the final say when substitute O'Shane Stewart slashed a right-wing cross against the outside of his own post. The ball flew out for a corner and the scoreline remained 3-0.
Southend United U18s: Harry Seaden, Dan Humphreys, Ide Osimeh, Harry Cuthbert, Taylor Curran, Zak Pianim, Eren Kinali, Jon Benton, Emile Acquah, Matt Rush, Terrell Egbri (O'Shane Stewart, 60). Substitutes not used: Callum Taylor, Marley Hutchings.
Cautioned: Curran (34, foul tackle).