Southend United U18s were unable to build on victory over Stevenage as they slipped to a 2-0 midweek defeat away to Peterborough United.
Blues travelled to Posh in a rearranged fixture on Tuesday evening, and it was a difficult first ten minutes for both sides on the artificial pitch at Peterborough’s Mick George Training Academy. A swirling wind meant the game was bogged down in midfield and few chances were created.
Southend had made three changes from the 3-0 win at Stevenage as first-year goalkeeper Jamie Grossart replaced Callum Taylor between the posts and Reiss Chandler came in for schoolboy Harrison Clayden. Another U16, Jaden Crowhurst, dropped out of the side in favour of skipper Sam Brogan.
The wind soon died down and the game’s first real chance came on 13 minutes, falling to Peterborough striker Adler Nascimento who was played clean through; Grossart was alert to the danger and whipped the ball away before a shot was made. On 21 minutes there was a lengthy stoppage while the host's full-back Benjamin Mensah needed treatment for a leg injury and was unable to continue.
The young Blues went behind on 24 minutes when centre-back Ergis Shala was adjudged to have fouled Hisham Chiha in the penalty area. Posh skipper Charlie O’Connell sent Grossart the wrong way with his well-taken spot-kick.
Chances remained scarce, although Oli Coker scuffed his shot on 38 minutes when well-positioned to test the home keeper. Three minutes later Bobby Unwin sped down the left flank and found Oli Coker but Saturday’s goalscoring hero missed his kick. Moments later Peterborough had a chance to increase their lead when the impressive O’Connell cut in from the right flank but could only drill his left-footed shot straight at Grossart.
The first half was into additional time when there was a huge shout from the Blues players for a penalty as the ball struck a defender’s arm in the area but the referee waved away the vociferous appeals and the visitors trailed narrowly at the break.
There were no changes for the Blues at half-time while Peterborough made a further two substitutions. The second half started much in the same vein as the first with chances few and far between. Blues skipper Sam Brogan needed treatment on 54 minutes as he injured himself when conceding a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, with Grossart making a fingertip save at the expense of a corner from the resultant set-piece.
Moments later O’Connell sent in a cross which had Grossart momentarily scrambling backwards as it drifted close to the Blues goal before landing on top of the net and, on 56 minutes, Chandler fashioned a chance for Kenny Coker but the young striker miscued his shot when well positioned. It was Coker’s last action of the game as he was replaced by Tommy Lambourne.
On the hour mark, Oli Coker played in Unwin with a neat pass but the winger’s left-footed shot only found the side-netting. Blues were punished a minute later when Posh doubled their lead through Hisham Chiha. The tricky winger struck a left-footed shot into the corner of the net that just eluded Grossart’s outstretched arm.
Blues had a chance to reduce the arrears on 64 minutes but Demaray Anyadike’s shot was straight at the home goalkeeper Will Blackmore. Anyadike was substituted three minutes later and replaced by Freddy Eastwood. On 78 minutes Posh’s Connor Peters was yellow-carded for a heavy challenge on Cameron Brown.
Neither side managed to create any further clear-cut chances until the 87th minute when Peterborough substitute Lewis Darlington fired narrowly over the bar. Seconds later Nascimento was played in by a great pass from O’Connell but Grossart reacted quickly to narrow the angle, and the striker guided his shot past the left-hand upright.
The last real moment of the game came in injury time and Blues had another appeal for a penalty turned down when Brown appeared to be bundled over in the area. It was a tough night for the young Blues, who host Cambridge United at Boots & Laces on Saturday morning.
Southend United U18s: Jamie Grossart, Reiss Chandler, Ahmet Biler, Sam Brogan, Ergis Shala, Jimmy Wallace, Damaray Anyadike (Freddy Eastwood, 67) Cameron Brown, Kenny Coker (Tommy Lambourne, 56), Oli Coker, Bobby Unwin.
Unused substitutes: Callum Taylor, Luke Reeve, Jaden Crowhurst.