Southend United’s winning run was brought to an abrupt end by Peterborough United U18s, who recorded a 2-1 victory at the Mick George Training Academy on Saturday morning.
Blues had won seven straight matches in all competitions, with their last defeat having come against the Posh at Boots & Laces on 15th September. However, in the build-up to Wednesday’s FA Youth Cup Second Round tie against Charlton Athletic, Sam Knock’s first goal of the season was not enough for Dave Huzzey’s side following an uncharacteristic display.
Huzzey named a full-strength side for the EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference encounter with the only outfield change from the previous match – a dramatic 3-2 victory at Cambridge United – being the return of Freddy Eastwood Jnr in place of trialist Courtney Watson. Charlie Kelman returned to the team after featuring for the first-team against Southampton in the EFL Trophy in midweek.
The visitors were off the pace in the early stages and Peterborough could have taken the lead in the fifth minute when an attacker got in on the left-hand side and slashed wildly off-target. Eight minutes later Harry Seaden - making his first start since an eye infection ruled him out - made a fine save to push over a fierce shot after another forward had cut inside Reiss Chandler to connect with a deep free-kick.
In the 17th minute another effort was deflected wide of the left-hand upright, but Posh took the lead eight minutes later when Southend failed to clear their lines from a set-piece. A left-wing centre was driven into the six-yard box and Archie Jones slid in at the back post to convert.
Having failed to register a shot on goal to that point, the teenage Shrimpers could have no complaints about the scoreline, and they were indebted to schoolboy defender Jimmy Wallace for Posh not extending their advantage in the 27th minute as he scooped the ball off the goal-line when Seaden was beaten.
Custodian Seaden did make a superb fingertip save in the 34th minute to turn a free-kick around the post, and that gave Knock the opportunity to level as Blues threatened for the first time nine minutes before half-time. Matt Rush won a corner that was swung to the far post by Ide Osimeh and the captain managed to nod home to make it 1-1.
Seaden was called upon to make a confident near-post stop shortly afterwards, but the goal did appear to galvanise Blues and Rush directed a weak shot into the goalkeeper’s gloves at the conclusion of the opening period.
Southend started the second period on the front foot and Eastwood combined with Kelman in the first sixty seconds for the forward to curl over when well-placed. Kelman was given an even better opportunity in the 50th minute when Jon Benton’s slide-rule pass put him clear down the inside-right channel, but he steered his effort across the face of goal.
This was the visitors’ best spell of the game but, just as it appeared that they might be capable of extending their victorious run, Peterborough hit back with a free-kick of the highest quality. Benton conceded a foul 22 yards out and Jack Gurney brilliantly curled the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of Seaden’s net.
Kelman had a goal ruled out after Seaden had initiated a counter-attack immediately following the goal, but Southend lost their attacking impetus and were fortunate, first when an attacker rolled a shot inches wide midway through the second half and then again when a Posh player rounded Seaden but inexplicably fired wide.
Seaden was then called upon to acrobatically turn a near-post shot around the frame of the goal, but Blues did suggest that they might be capable of another comeback when Rush nodded over Terrell Egbri’s right-wing cross in the 78th minute. O’Shane Stewart then screwed a 25-yard strike wide of the right-hand post as the match moved into the final ten minutes.
Blues enjoyed plenty of possession during the closing stages of the game, but the ball wouldn’t fall kindly to either Kelman or Rush in the penalty area and instead the best opportunity fell to Stewart, who volleyed into the goalkeeper’s gloves from distance. Southend will be hoping for a much-improved performance on Wednesday evening when they take on Charlton at Welling United FC.
Southend United U18s: Harry Seaden, Reiss Chandler (Sam Brogan, 81), Ide Osimeh, O’Shane Stewart, Sam Knock, Jimmy Wallace, Terrell Egbri, Jon Benton (Ahmet Biler, 81), Charlie Kelman, Matt Rush, Freddy Eastwood Jnr (Issa Mpenga, 71). Substitutes not used: Callum Taylor, Ben Dabbs.
Goal: Knock (36).
Cautioned: Knock (44, dissent).