Southend United U18s exited The FA Youth Cup at the hands of Charlton Athletic following a 2-0 Second Round defeat to the Addicks at Park View Road on Wednesday evening.
Dave Huzzey’s side fought hard against their Category Two opponents and, despite two superb saves by Harry Seaden, had more than matched their hosts by the time Euan Williams gave Charlton the lead in the 28th minute. Southend then enjoyed the better of the opportunities until Kareem Isiaka confirmed the victory six minutes from the end of the game.
Blues made one change to the starting line-up for the previous fixture against Peterborough United on Saturday as Miles Mitchell-Nelson, who had been struggling in the preceding fortnight with injury, returned to the team in place of schoolboy Jimmy Wallace.
Mitchell-Nelson was involved from the outset, although not in his usual defensive role, as he rose to meet a Jon Benton free-kick in the second minute and planted his header narrowly wide. Charlton responded in the eighth minute when Isiaki was brilliantly thwarted by Seaden, who managed to turn his close-range volley around the right-hand post.
Despite that opportunity, the visitors had made a bright start to the game, and they were almost rewarded in the 12th minute when Kelman latched onto Matt Rush’s flick-on from a booming Seaden goal-kick. The forward, who recently made his first-team debut in the EFL Trophy, snatched at his half-volley and skied his attempt.
Less than sixty seconds later Addicks goalkeeper Joshua Osaghae was drawn into action for the first time as he was forced to claim a sliced Billy French clearance underneath his own crossbar following a dangerous Kelman cross. Blues looked well-organised and, as the game passed the mid-point of the first half, they had not been in any further defensive trouble.
However, in the 26th minute Seaden was called upon again and he proved himself up to the task. The England U17 international was faced with a rampant Isiaka as he raced into the penalty area, but Seaden stood tall before making an outstanding save to force the ball over the crossbar.
Unfortunately he was finally beaten two minutes later as Charlton moved in front. A neat flick by Freddie Barton on the Charlton right sent the ball over Ide Osimeh and left the Blues defence chasing back. Williams latched onto the ball and darted inside before driving his shot beyond Seaden and inside the near post.
Southend were forced into a change shortly afterwards when Reiss Chandler, who had sustained an injury a couple of minutes earlier, limped off. He was replaced by Ben Dabbs and, despite Isiaka nodding wide from a Kasim Aidoo cross, Blues responded well in adversity.
Another Benton set-piece in the 34th minute led to Mitchell-Nelson heading wide before Freddy Eastwood’s centre was cut out ahead of Rush by a Charlton defender. Benton then strode through midfield before drawing a good save from Osaghae besides the base of the right-hand post in the 39th minute and the ever-dangerous Kelman also tested the shotstopper in the lead-up to half-time with a strong shot from a narrow angle.
Blues were first out for the second period and they started on the front foot again. Skipper Sam Knock saw his attempt from an Osimeh corner charged down in the 48th minute and the enterprising Benton attempted his luck from 25 yards out, warming the gloves of Osaghae with a stinging strike from close to the apex of the penalty area.
Charlton did have the ball in the back of the net in the 52nd minute, but James Gody’s effort was ruled out for an infringement and the teenage Shrimpers had a real opportunity to equalise five minutes later. Benton’s free-kick caught everyone out, but Knock was alert to the situation, connecting with the ball at the far post but smashing wide.
Midway through the second half, Gody managed to squeeze a shot beyond Seaden, but Mitchell-Nelson managed to clear off the goal-line and Osimeh then blocked Williams’ follow-up out for a corner. That was Mitchell-Nelson’s last contribution to the game, however, as he went down injured and Wallace replaced him.
With Sam Brogan having been introduced for Eastwood, Blues had now made all their substitutions, but they still retained a threat and Egbri almost chased down a long clearance, forcing Osaghae to hare off his line to clear, before an unmarked Kelman headed over from a Benton set-piece
Despite those chances, Blues had been increasingly restricted to counter-attacks as Charlton began to enjoy more possession in the closing stages, and the home side guaranteed a Third Round tie away to Preston North End in the 84th minute when Isiaka capitalised on a mistake by Benton to send a fine finish into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
Blues had scored twice in the final five minutes against Leyton Orient to send their First Round tie into extra time, but there was to be no repeat on this occasion. Southend kept battling, with Kelman and Egbri both cautioned in stoppage time as they refused to relent, but they were unable to haul themselves back into the game.
Southend United U18s: Harry Seaden, Reiss Chandler (Ben Dabbs, 31), Ide Osimeh, O’Shane Stewart, Sam Knock, Miles Mitchell-Nelson (Jimmy Wallace, 72), Terrell Egbri, Jon Benton, Charlie Kelman, Matt Rush, Freddy Eastwood Jnr (Sam Brogan, 68). Substitutes not used: Callum Taylor, Issa Mpenga.
Cautioned: Kelman (90+1, foul tackle), Egbri (90+4, adopting an aggressive attitude).