Southend United’s youth team coach, Danny Heath, is encouraging his squad to enjoy the occasion as they prepare for the visit of Barking in The FA Youth Cup Second Round Qualifying this evening.
Blues will play their first qualifying tie in the competition for 36 years – since the format of The FA Youth Cup was restructured – when Barking travel to Roots Hall for a 7:00pm kick-off tonight.
Heath, together with joint U23s coach Mark Moss and recruitment officer Michael March, watched Barking’s 5-1 victory over Cheshunt 11 days ago, and he expects a tough challenge.
"The boys have been in and done their match preparation for this game with the U23s," he said ahead of the encounter.
"Barking, from what we saw against Cheshunt and from the feedback we’ve had from Ian Hart and Lewis Dallas, who have played against them through their college programmes, are a very good footballing side."
Last season’s FA Youth Cup First Round tie against Ipswich Town took place at Portman Road behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so Heath is keen to see a large crowd at Roots Hall to support the squad.
"It’s an experience that will go quickly on the night, so it’s important that the boys enjoy the experience and don’t come off with any regrets," he added.
"Hopefully we’ll get a few fans into the ground. All the U9s to U16s have been asked to attend, so hopefully we get a big crowd in and football is all about performing under pressure in those situations, and the lights and the stadium will add to that."
You can read the full interview with Danny Heath in tonight’s matchday programme, which due to logistical issues will not be available as a printed version for this match, but can be located online here.
The MidexPRO East Stand will be open tonight and tickets cost £5 for adults and £1 for concessions.