Southend United’s under-18 side ended AFC Wimbledon’s unbeaten start to the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League One campaign to return to the top of the table.

Bobby Unwin scored his fourth goal of the season with a sumptuous free-kick shortly before half-time and, after Ayoub Assal had equalised for the Dons early in the second half, Freddy Eastwood fired home to secure a 2-1 victory for Blues.

And Shrimpers coach Dave Huzzey was quick to praise the performance.

“I’m very pleased,” said Huzzey.

“I was pleased with the boys, how they applied themselves and their professionalism in the performance after going 1-0 up and 2-1 up.

“They held out and controlled the game really well, both in and out of possession during the last 20 minutes of the game.”

The victory saw Blues jump to the top of the table with just two games to go.

And Huzzey is keen for his players to make the most of the opportunity.

“We take on Oxford next who won their championship in the first half of the season and are a strong, physical side and then Portsmouth on the last day of the season,” said Huzzey.

“We have two massive games but it’s a brilliant opportunity and a brilliant experience.

“I hope we come out with two positive results.”

But Blues will first enjoy a break this weekend before getting back in action.

“The Easter weekend will be a nice rest after two tough away games,” said Huzzey.

“The journey down to Swindon and playing on the same day was tough, and playing away to AFC Wimbledon is always a tough game.

“It certainly was during the first part of the season and we had a real battle here and at our place so it’s a good win.”

After weathering an early storm, Blues began to impose themselves in the closing stages of the opening period and the Dons goalkeeper did well to palm out a 38th minute Eastwood strike before Terrell Egbri fired the follow-up over.

But, just three minutes later, the Shrimpers took the lead when Unwin picked his spot and curled a free-kick around the wall and into the bottom corner of the net.

Blues were pegged back three minutes after the restart when miscommunication between Sam Knock and Harry Seaden allowed a long ball to be looped in by Assal.

However, the Shrimpers hit back to score the winning goal in the 68th minute when Matt Rush used his body brilliantly to roll the ball into the path of Eastwood.

The first-year scholar rode one challenge before steadying himself and slotting home.

Southend United U18s: Seaden, Chandler, Biler, Taylor, Knock (Vaivada 59), Mitchell-Nelson (Wallace 90), Egbri, Brogan, Rush, Eastwood, Unwin

Substitutes not used: Taylor & Mpenga