Southend United were knocked out of the BBC Essex Senior Cup by Coggeshall Town at Roots Hall on Wednesday evening.
Alex Teniola put the visitors in front midway through the first half before second half goals by Jayden Gipson and Kudos Oyenuga sealed the success for the Seedgrowers, who claimed a 3-0 victory under the watchful gaze of their joint-owner, Olly Murs.
Also in attendance was Blues’ Head Coach, Kevin Maher, and Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Danny Heath felt that his young side passed up an opportunity to impress the boss ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy tie with Dorking Wanderers.
“Football is about opportunities, and they don’t come around often,” he said. “When you are given the opportunity, you have to show that you’re ready, or that you’ve got the potential to step up, so it’s important that the boys start making these opportunities count.”
“Full credit to Coggeshall. I thought they fully deserved the win and to get through to the next round. It was disappointing because we spoke in the pre-match meeting about set-plays being key because they looked a threat on the footage we’d seen, and that’s where the first two goals came from,” he added.
Southend were able to call upon Jon Benton, fresh from netting six times in five appearances on loan for Coggeshall’s Isthmian League North Division counterparts Aveley, whilst first-year scholar Fin Purcell made his competitive U23s debut in goal.
Purcell made the first save of the match in the 14th minute, gathering an Oyenuga strike comfortably at his near post after Benton had gone close for the hosts with a curling left-footed effort that passed marginally the wrong side of the left-hand upright.
However, the Seedgrowers took the lead in the 22nd minute. Having managed to scramble a cross out for a throw roughly level with the edge of the six-yard box, the Blues back-line failed to deal with Aryton Coley’s missile-like propulsion and Teniola flicked the ball beyond Purcell at the near post.
Cameron Brown was narrowly off-target with a free-kick in the 26th minute, and Blues went even closer to equalising shortly after the half-hour mark when Bobby Unwin’s left-wing centre was deflected against the crossbar, with Brown unable to turn home the rebound at the far post.
Blues were building some momentum, and O’Shane Stewart saw a 25-yard attempt charged down before Benton’s set-piece from a similar distance thudded into the side-netting. At the other end, Purcell was called upon to claim a powerful close-range header by Teniola from Callum Harrison’s free-kick.
The half ended with third-year scholar Tommy Lambourne charging down Matthew Cafer’s clearance and rolling the ball into the net, only to be stopped short in his celebrations by the assistant referee’s flag and the referee’s whistle.
The young Shrimpers started the second period on the front foot, and a good move involving Benton, Brown and Demaray Anyadike ended with Unwin hooking a right-wing cross into Cafer’s gloves from ten yards out.
However, despite Southend enjoying more possession as they built patiently from the back, Coggeshall looked the more threatening and George Cocklin glanced another Harrison delivery wide before Oyenuga drilled a shot into the side-netting from an acute angle.
Lambourne just failed to steer Jaden Crowhurst’s right-wing cross on the hour mark towards goal, with his connection diverting the ball away from Unwin arriving late at the far post, whilst at the other end Oyenuga’s fierce shot was pushed out for a corner by Purcell in impressive fashion.
Unfortunately, the young shotstopper was unable to prevent Coggeshall from doubling their lead at the mid-point of the second half. This time, Harrison’s dead-ball prowess saw him pick out Gipsonat the far post and he headed back across goal and into the net.
Heath attempted to change the course of the game by introducing forward Tendi Quamina in place of Anyadike, but Coggeshall could have extended their advantage still further in the 71st minute when Purcell made a brilliant point-blank stop to deny midfielder Isaac Skubich.
Unwin looked set to halve the deficit two minutes later when he nodded Brown’s cross towards the bottom right-hand corner, but Cafer made a superb full-length save to palm the ball away and instead Coggeshall made it 3-0 with 13 minutes remaining when Oyenuga impudently chipped Purcell from an acute angle.
Cafer saved with his hands from another Unwin header and with his feet to thwart Brown in the closing stages, before Benton curled the ball into his gloves in stoppage time, but Southend were unable to prevent a seventh Third Round exit from the Essex Senior Cup in eight editions.
“I thought our tempo could’ve been a lot quicker than it was,” remarked Heath. “Our movement to get into spaces to receive the ball away from the physicality of their players was lacking on a consistent basis throughout.”
“I don’t know how many times Fin Purcell has received the ball from pass-backs when we could’ve been moving forwards with the ball. We wanted the boys to have the confidence to go out and play like they can, and as a collective group it was disappointing.”
Southend United U23s: Fin Purcell, Jaden Crowhurst, Louie Arrowsmith, O’Shane Stewart, Ergis Shala, Patrick Droney, Demaray Anyadike (Tendi Quamina, 68), Cameron Brown, Tommy Lambourne (Tayo Adedoja, 82), Jon Benton, Bobby Unwin (Brian Garzon, 82). Unused substitutes: Callum Burkey, Harrison Clayden.
Cautioned: Shala (70, unsporting behaviour).