A determined Southend United U18s side returned to winning ways with a superb 5-0 victory over Leyton Orient at the Whitbread’s Sports Ground in Woodford Green.
A young Blues team were seeking to bounce back after a humbling 5-1 home defeat to Peterborough United the previous weekend, and they did so in some style against an O’s outfit that had yet to taste victory in 2018/19.
They did so thanks to a brace from Jon Benton plus further efforts by Freddy Eastwood, Charlie Kelman and Matt Rush.
Southend dominated from the kick-off and carved their first chance on nine minutes when Benton found Kelman in space and his looping shot was just tipped over the bar by Rhys Byrne in the Orient goal.
Five minutes later Blues’ goalkeeper Harry Seaden was called into action to clear hastily after Terrell Egbri’s underhit backpass was nearly intercepted by Jaedon Phillips.
On 16 minutes a penetrating free-kick by Alex Bragg saw Miles Mitchell-Nelson’s header go wide of the target.
The next chance to break the deadlock came on 23 minutes and again the dangerous Benton was the fulcrum with a quick break forward. He fed Kelman but the young striker’s left-footed shot drifted past the post.
The O’s then had a rare attack when Lawrence Hammond fizzed a dangerous cross into the Blues’ penalty area but Mitchell-Nelson was well positioned to clear.
On 31 minutes Blues had another chance to take the lead when Rush was played in after some excellent hold up play from Eastwood but he could only find the side-netting.
Three minutes later and Southend’s possession finally paid off when Rush played in Kelman and his fierce shot was only parried by Byrne and Benton lashed in the loose ball.
Blues then doubled their lead ten minutes later when Benton was needlessly fouled by Hammond on the edge of the O’s penalty area.
Benton picked himself up to take the kick and he curled the ball perfectly over the wall and into the left-hand side of the net.
Southend started the second half again dominating possession and both skipper O’Shane Stewart and Rush had powerful shots fly over the Orient bar.
In the 53rd minute Kelman fed Benton and he played a tantalising cross in for Rush but he scuffed his shot wide of the goal.
The hosts had the ball in the net on 59 minutes when a whipped in corner was headed in by Phillips but the forward was adjudged to have impeded Seaden in getting to the ball.
Just two minutes later Blues put the result beyond doubt when Benton and Kelman again combined superbly down the right and Kelman’s cross found Eastwood totally unmarked and he buried his shot past Byrne with some aplomb.
Orient then had a brief spell in the ascendancy and Charlie Clayden whacked the foot of the Blues’ post with a left-footed drive with Mitchell-Nelson again on hand to clear the danger.
Two minutes later the Blues trialist played in Egbri and his powerful shot was tipped over for yet another corner, from which Jimmy Wallace went close with a header.
Southend went 4-0 up on 87 minutes when the hard working Rush played a lovely ball into Kelman and his left-footed shot easily beat the Orient goalkeeper.
Two minutes into stoppage time Rush deservedly got himself on the scoresheet with a super run and finish to complete an outstanding performance on the road for the young Blues.