Southend United U18s host Cambridge United at Roots Hall this evening (7:30pm) in the First Round Proper of The FA Youth Cup.
Danny Heath’s side have been handed a home draw in The FA Youth Cup for the first time in three seasons and they go into the game having won five of their last seven matches in all competitions.
One of the games during that run was away to Cambridge, with Blues emerging 2-1 winners to even up the league head-to-head between the sides after the U’s prevailed by an identical scoreline at Boots & Laces.
Heath takes charge of the squad at Roots Hall for the first time after being handed the role of youth team coach this summer, and he is expecting a difficult contest against a team he respects. He has encouraged the club’s supporters to attend the match this evening to back the stars of the future.
"Always, predominantly, against Cambridge, not just at U18s level, but from U9s to U16s, they are always tough games and they are always good games,” he revealed. “Cambridge are a team that can play football, and they can play direct with quality as well.”
"You always know that you will get a tough game and that you will have to roll your sleeves up and compete, first and foremost. That is going to be important. I think it will be a good game to come and watch, and hopefully we get a fair few people through the gate to support the boys,” he added.
Youth team captain Sam Brogan is also expecting a hard-fought encounter. The second-year scholar, who will make his 50th appearance for the U18s this evening, believes the recent triumph could prove important.
"It was a great feeling to beat Cambridge last time out,” he claimed. “We battled hard and stuck together as a team and we deserved the result in the end. It wasn’t the nicest game to watch, but we got the result and that was the most important thing.”
"Both the games against Cambridge have been scrappy. We didn’t play as well in the first game, but we have been more of a unit recently and we had some players coming back that didn’t play in the first fixture, so we’re really happy. It was a good start to the second half of the season.”
"It was a big win mentally. We’ve got the advantage now going into this game at Roots Hall. We think it will give us an edge. We’re also at home and I think that’ll help us."
"It’s going to be a great occasion. It’s the first home FA Youth Cup fixture for quite a few years, so I reckon there will be a big crowd. Hopefully we’ll play well and deliver on the big occasion and get the result we want," he declared.
Tickets for tonight’s game are priced at £3 for adults and £1 for seniors, U18s and juniors and can be purchased on the gate before entry which will be from East Stand Block D (green and black seats).
Programmes - which include full interviews with Danny Heath and Sam Brogan - can be purchased for a minimum £1 donation, with proceeds from the sales going to the Academy.