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13 October 2021

A euphoric Fin Purcell was delighted to have played his part in securing Southend United’s place in The FA Youth Cup First Round Proper with a penalty shoot-out win over Aveley U18s at Roots Hall.

Purcell denied Harry Brown with the Millers’ first spot-kick before turning away Ethan Charlette’s seventh to help Blues earn a 6-5 success on penalties following a goalless draw in the Third Round Qualifying clash. 

With a third clean sheet in the past five matches also under his belt, there was plenty for the first-year scholar to smile about in the aftermath of the victory: “We’re very happy to be in the next round,” he declared.  

“We got over the line, but the performance could’ve been better. We had good spells in the first 30 minutes and created some good chances; we probably should’ve taken some of those.” 

“We kept going and we didn’t give up, but towards the end we should’ve shown our quality, the quality that we had shown in that first 30 minutes. Aveley played very well, but we should’ve taken the chances we created because defensively we did well.” 

With two knockout matches in succession, the teenage Shrimpers had been working on their prowess from twelve yards in training, and Purcell revealed that a shoot-out at the end of a pre-season tournament at West Ham United had also played its part in the club’s preparations.

“It gets you ready for the bigger moment,” he confirmed. “It’s good to work through as many scenarios as possible because the more you do it, then in the crucial moments you’ve prepared for it well.” 

“I do stay out with the strikers and let them take some and I do back myself at penalties. I know when it goes to a shoot-out I’ve got it, as long as the other players do their part, which they did today.” 

“I thought our penalties were pretty good and we kept out composure well. The practice has paid off. For penalties you’ve got to psyche yourself up and tell yourself that nothing’s going in. You have to tell yourself that if we want to get into the next round, I can get us there. It’s more mental.” 

And now the former Arsenal and Barnet gloveman is hoping he can reprise one of his career highlights in the First Round Proper: “It’s definitely up there! It’s one of the highest moments. I’m looking forward to the next round.” 

“I’m chuffed with myself that we’re through. It’s amazing. Hopefully we can get a big club away in a good stadium. We’re all happy, but we do have to think about the performance as well, and if we want to go further in the tournament, we do need to up our game.”  

“In spells we were good, but we need to do that for 90 minutes and against a better team we might not have got the same result. We need to keep our standards high,” he added.

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