First-year scholar Tommy Lambourne was pleased to contribute two goals as Southend United U18s recorded an impressive 6-1 victory away to Barnet on Saturday.
Blues provided the perfect response after losing 8-5 to league leaders Northampton Town in their previous outing by netting six times at The Hive. Freddy Eastwood also bagged a brace whilst Demaray Anyadike and Ergis Shala both scored their first goals for the club.
"I think coming off the last defeat it was good that we turned it around and got the win,” said Lambourne. “I was happy to get two goals, but it was a good team performance. There was a lot to improve on; I think we all know that and we’re going to work hard in the week to implement that in the next game.”
"We’ve changed a couple of things around in training and it looks like it’s working. We’re going to carry on doing that and keep pushing on,” he added.
The 17-year-old’s opening goal of the morning arrived on 11 minutes when he made the most of Anyadike’s driving run into the penalty area. The winger was dispossessed by a Barnet defender, but Lambourne remained alert to slot home from eight yards out.
The forward’s second goal of the game came two minutes into the second period after Eastwood had marginally over-hit a through-ball. Again Lambourne was vigilant as he seized on a lapse in concentration at the back and shifted the ball onto his left foot before angling a finish into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
"I’m a striker that likes to take chances and gamble,” he revealed. “The second goal was definitely a gamble, coming to the centre-back. I nicked it off him and slotted it away, and the first one was another rebound. I’m lucky to be in the position to score, but I also think I get there myself and use my brain to get in those positions.”
"I’ve hit a bit of form where what I hit normally goes in and I’m just trying to take that into every game. Today I did that. I’d like to stay top scorer for the season; there are a couple of boys in and around but that’s healthy. We all want to score and it’s good motivation to get a bit of competition going on.”
Lambourne’s double came on the back of a hat-trick against Northampton at Boots & Laces, and he also netted twice in a 3-3 draw away to Milton Keynes Dons earlier in the campaign. With eight goals from seven starts he has risen to the top of the teenage Shrimpers’ goalscoring charts in his first season as a scholar.
Despite the result seven days earlier, he was pleased with his personal performance as he grabbed three goals inside 23 first-half minutes: “There’s no feeling like getting a hat-trick. As a striker you feel so excited and you just want to celebrate with the team. Unfortunately we lost, which dampens it a little bit, but I was still very happy to score three goals in that game,” he said.
"As a team we all stick together, so although we lost I did get congratulated by my team-mates. I don’t think losing has taken anything away from the achievement with the players and the coaches. I recognise it myself, but it was unfortunate we didn’t win the game.”
"The FA Youth Cup tie was the first time I’d played at Roots Hall. The nerves kicked in before the game, and I don’t think I played amazingly well in that game. It was important for me to really kick on in the next one, so it made the hat-trick even sweeter to get back in form,” he declared.
However, Lambourne may not even be in this position were it not for an injury crisis in the U16s team last season. Having spent the majority of his career as a defender, he was converted into a front man and he has reaped the dividends ever since.
"I’ve been here since U9s, so I’ve been here for my whole career. It’s nice to be here getting goals. I didn’t start as a striker; I came as a left-back and then went to centre-back and straight to striker. It’s been crazy,” he claimed.
"My coach last season, where we had a lack of players, I was asked if I could do a job and I was more than happy to do it. I performed well in training and it carried on from there. I’ve been playing there ever since.”
Youth team coach Danny Heath will certainly have been happy with Lambourne’s contribution in recent games. Heath was forced to make three changes to the side as Reiss Chandler and Oli Coker missed out through injury. Schoolboy Louie Arrowsmith was also replaced in the starting line-up by Ahmet Biler, with Shala and Cameron Brown also coming in.
Biler was involved in the first goal of the game just seven minutes in as Blues made an excellent start. The full-back’s inswinging corner was met by Anyadike, who nodded into the top left-hand corner of the net from six yards out.
Lambourne added the second with his clinical finish shortly afterwards and, with Bobby Unwin having also gone close, it was 3-0 within 19 minutes when Eastwood added the third goal. Sam Brogan’s threaded pass found Lambourne, who moved the ball on to Anyadike. His cross was cleared only as far as Eastwood, who rifled in from ten yards out.
Barnet gave themselves a lifeline in the 37th minute when a powerful header was sent flying past Callum Taylor from a corner, but Blues almost restored their three-goal cushion immediately when Anyadike’s cross was nodded against the base of the left-hand post by Lambourne.
Instead, central defender Shala was responsible for extending the advantage three minutes before half-time when a short-corner routine led to another Biler cross and the first-year scholar rose above his marker to send a glancing header into the roof of the net.
Lambourne was on target again early in the second period, but the goal of the game arrived on 72 minutes when schoolboy substitute Brian Garzon helped the ball into the path of Eastwood on the edge of the penalty area and he slammed an unstoppable 25-yard strike into the top right-hand corner of the net.
There was one last chance for Lambourne to register a second consecutive hat-trick when he met an Eastwood cross, but his aerial effort was chalked off for a push. Nonetheless, he remains pleased with the way the season is going.
"At the start of the season, because I’m a first-year, I wanted to be starting and I wanted to prove myself. I think I have done that through being the top goalscorer for the team. That is a big goal I’ve set for myself,” he stated after the final whistle.
"We’ve got a lot of great players in the team, but we all work together and we don’t take any chances away from each other. We’re more than happy to pass it to the free man or have a shot ourselves. Although I’ve scored the goals, they’ve also come from the team and our unselfishness.”
"I’m happy that I’ve come back from my injury. I always knew once I got that out the way I could kick on and really push to get more goals for the team. I’m going to keep trying to do that. As a team we weren’t performing very well at the start of the season, we then hit a run of form where we were doing well and I feel like we’ve got that back again. We’re going to carry on trying to play well and win games,” he declared.
Southend United U18s: Callum Taylor (Jamie Grossart, 77), Tommy Davis, Ahmet Biler (Louie Arrowsmith, 69), Sam Brogan, Jimmy Wallace, Ergis Shala, Demaray Anyadike (Kenny Coker, 77), Cameron Brown, Tommy Lambourne (Adetayo Adedoja, 77), Freddy Eastwood, Bobby Unwin (Brian Garzon, 69).
Goals: Anyadike (7), Lambourne (11, 47), Eastwood (19, 72), Shala (42).
Cautioned: Shala (62, foul tackle).