Southend United’s youth team coach, Danny Heath, insists previous meetings are of little importance when Blues U18s host Cambridge United in The FA Youth Cup First Round Proper on Thursday evening (7:30pm kick-off).
Southend’s prize for overcoming Barking and Aveley in the qualifying rounds of the competition is an encounter against Cambridge, who they have already knocked out of the EFL Youth Alliance Cup, 2-0, at Boots & Laces this season.
The U’s had earlier claimed a 5-1 league win over the teenage Shrimpers at the same venue, meaning that this is the third fixture between the sides in as many months. In addition to that, Cambridge defeated Blues, 2-1, at the same stage of The FA Youth Cup at Roots Hall in 2019.
The familiarity does not end there; Southend’s Academy Manager, Ricky Duncan, had a successful stint in the varsity city prior to returning to south-east Essex in 2005, when he employed current Cambridge first-team manager, Mark Bonner, as Lead Youth Foundation Phase Coach at Boots & Laces.
“I don’t think the previous meetings count for anything,” said Heath. “The important thing for us is to focus on the present. They’ve beaten us once and we’ve beaten them once, but I know on the night it will be a game between two good teams.
“We’ll both be looking to play good football, and whoever has that little bit of quality on the night will win the game and get into the next round.”
With the two previous outings at Roots Hall having been watched by over 200 fans apiece, as well as players from the younger Academy age groups, Heath is also keen for his charges to draw on the knowledge they have gleaned from those occasions.
“The team’s overall target is to get to at least the Third Round, but what the two preliminary games have done is given the lads the opportunity to play as a group, under the lights, twice, at home, so they have already got the experience of that this season.
“Last year the second-years played away, so as a group they’ve now had the experience twice in this cup. I think the crowd and the atmosphere will help the boys,” he added.
Admission for the match at Roots Hall on Thursday evening is £5 for adults and £1 for concessions via the MidexPRO East Stand green and black entrance, and you can read more from youth team coach, Danny Heath, in the matchday programme, available for a minimum donation of £1 to the Academy from the tunnel between the entrance and the seats on the night.