Southend United U23s returned to competitive action on Tuesday with a 4-0 away defeat to AFC Bournemouth in EFL Central League Cup Group A.
The result extinguished any lingering hopes that Blues could progress to the knockout stages of the competition, with Craig Fagan’s team suffering a third defeat from three matches this term. Southend complete their campaign next Tuesday when Oxford United visit Boots & Laces.
Harry Seaden and Matt Rush again featured for the U23s as they looked to build on their match sharpness ahead of the festive period, whilst first-year scholar Tayo Adedoja was handed a starting berth after impressing with his displays this term.
Blues had been beaten 4-3 by the Cherries in their previous Central League Cup encounter, and it was the home side that made the better start as Seaden made a fine save in the sixth minute to deny Euan Pollock.
Bournemouth did take the lead at the Canford Arena after a quarter-of-an-hour when Ryan Glover’s pass was thumped home by Jordan Zemura, but Jon Benton had an opportunity to equalise shortly afterwards when his long-range attempt was pushed out by Cameron Plain.
In the previous meeting, Southend had gone in at half-time two goals down, but they avoided that fate this time around as Seaden made excellent fingertip saves to deny Ben Greenwood and Owen Bevan.
The hosts had an even better opportunity to double their lead early in the second half when Christian Saydee’s effort struck the arms of a Blues defender and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Seaden guessed correctly to thwart the forward from twelve yards out and keep the scoreline manageable.
Rush then had a chance to bring the visitors level, but he fired over from Benton’s centre, and instead Bournemouth made it 2-0 just after the hour mark when Saydee’s pass was turned home by Pollock at the far post.
Four minutes later, Zemura doubled his personal tally to net Bournemouth’s third goal as his superb solo run saw him beat two defenders before firing into the net and, within seconds, he had turned provider for Saydee, who beat Seaden with a fine finish.
Youth team scholars Oli and Kenny Coker were introduced as substitutes and both were denied late on by goalkeeper Plain and defender Brooklyn Genesini respectively, whilst Rush sent an attempt into the side-netting, but Blues eventually returned to Essex with nothing to show for their efforts.
Blues XI: Harry Seaden, Reiss Chandler, Ide Osimeh, O'Shane Stewart, Jimmy Wallace, Miles Mitchell-Nelson, Imaad Sankoh, Jon Benton, Tayo Adedoja, Matt Rush, Tommy Davis.
Substitutes: Callum Taylor, Freddy Eastwood, Oli Coker, Kenny Coker, Callum Burkey.