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Southend United's youth team fight back to draw with Gillingham
SOUTHEND United’s under 18 side fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Gillingham at Boots & Laces on Saturday.
Playmaker Jack Bridge bagged a brace in the second half to ensure the Shrimpers picked up a point to end a run of four straight defeats.
And youth team coach Dave Huzzey was pleased by the response of his more experienced players.
“The senior players in the squad really stepped up to the mark, all the way back to Ted [Smith] at the back,” said Huzzey.
“Losing is a habit, just like winning, and we had been on a losing run so it’s good that we scored two and looked like we might score more as well.
“We’re creating chances again, which maybe we weren’t in the last couple of games, so there are loads of positives and just a little negative that it was only a draw when we could have won the game with a goal we had disallowed.”
Gillingham took the lead in the 25th minute when the visitors’ right winger got the better of Kane Farrell before teeing up a forward who got the telling final touch to divert it beyond Smith from close range.
The Kent club soon doubled their advantage but Blues replied when Bridge fired a 16 yard shot in to the top right hand corner of the net.
And, in the 73rd minute, Bridge was celebrating again as he held off a defender to bag his second goal of the afternoon and his seventh of the season.
With play switching back to the other end of the field, Smith then made a superb save at his near post to keep out a low strike with three minutes remaining but, in the dying seconds, it seemed as though Southend might have snatched the win.
A long Farrell throw was met by a flicked Daniel Snook header and, when the ball was hoisted up to the edge of the six-yard box, Jason Williams jumped with Gillingham goalkeeper Luke Nalder to bundle it over the goal-line.
But, as the front man wheeled away in celebration, the assistant’s flag was raised and a free-kick awarded, leaving the young Shrimpers frustrated at the final whistle.