Southend United U18s completed a 3-0 victory over an Aveley College team at Boots & Laces as they continued their preparations for the new campaign.
On a hot afternoon at Boots and Laces, Blues enjoyed the bulk of the possession in the opening half but they had to wait until the 35th minute before taking the lead.
A scramble in the visitors’ box saw them fail to clear the ball and Mo Amir hammered the ball into the net from ten yards out. Both Adetayo Adedoja and Louie Arrowsmith had chances to increase the advantage before half-time, but the Aveley keeper denied them both.
The second period started with more Blues pressure as Amir had a shot tipped over for a corner on 49 minutes. Moments later Adedoja burst clear, but his fierce shot saw the visiting keeper again in fine form and first-year midfielder Jacob Bland also had a goal disallowed for offside.
On 56 minutes Aveley had a golden chance to equalise when a floated free kick found its intended target, but he scuffed his shot past Fin Purcell’s left-hand post. Ten minutes later Ibrahim Kamara made an excellent run down the right and his cross found Adedoja, only for the forward to steer the ball into side-netting.
A minute later Blues were in again, but the excellence of the visiting goalkeeper prevented Brian Garzon from increasing the lead with a point-blank save.
Blues made a raft of substitutions at the water break and, on 72 minutes, one of the replacements, Louie Rodmell made it 2-0 after being left with a tap-in following superb work by Garzon. Three minutes later Rodmell turned provider as he squared for Joe Shenouda to finish deftly.
The final opportunity of the game came on 84 minutes when Rodmell shook himself free from a defender and sent an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net only for his effort to be ruled out for a foul against him in the build-up. That concluded a solid performance from the young Blues in sweltering conditions against a decent Aveley team.
“It was a good, even game,” said youth team coach Danny Heath afterwards. “I didn’t feel we were at our best. In the first half we had more of the ball, but we were wasteful in the final third with the final ball, whether that was a cross or a shot.
“What we did show was some good movement up front, and that’s how the opening goal came about, with Tayo exhibiting that and Mo Amir making a good run to get into the box. We then dominated possession in the second half and the two goals killed the game off.
“As the U23s did against Hornchurch, the two centre-halves matched up against their forwards and our full-backs had to go up against their wide-men. Everyone was required to take responsibility for their jobs.
“We’re getting good minutes into the legs of the boys. Jaden Crowhurst put in a good performance in the second half at Hornchurch, and he completed 70 minutes again; Ibrahim Kamara has also got two sets of 90 minutes in the tank.
“We want as many players as possible doing that before the first league game on 7th August. It was also good to see Louie Arrowsmith play 70 minutes after he hasn’t been able to train for a few days; that’s a compliment for Luke Wakeling and Jon Rossi and the work they do behind the scenes,” he added.
Southend United U18s: Fin Purcell (Luke Curullo, 80), Ibrahim Kamara, Louie Arrowsmith (Mitch Fallows, 69), Jacob Bland (Alfie Baines, 69), Habib Bolarinwa (James Taylor, 76), Callum Burkey, Mo Amir (Jake Hewitt, 69), Jaden Crowhurst (Freddie Buers, 69), Tayo Adedoja (Louie Rodmell, 69), Brian Garzon (Sam Ratcliff, 76), Omari Williams (Joe Shenouda, 69).