SOUTHEND United’s under-18 side started the new season with a 4-2 defeat against Luton Town.

Freddy Eastwood and Cameron Brown were both on target for Blues.

But ultimately defensive shortcomings proved decisive for the teenage Shrimpers as they conceded three times from set pieces in Danny Heath’s first game in full-time charge of the youth team.

However, there was enough in the performance to suggest that Blues will be competitive in the EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference this term.

Despite that, the Shrimpers started slowly and went behind after just seven minutes when Tra Lucas fired home from close range.

But Blues were back level within 60 seconds, thanks to a moment of magic from Eastwood.

The second-year scholar, who notched 17 goals in his first full campaign with the youth team, tormented a defender before cutting back onto his left foot and drilling the ball into the opposite corner of the net from an almost impossible angle.

The Shrimpers then went ahead in the 17th minute when Brown picked up possession on the right flank and floated the ball over the goalkeeper’s head.

Luton responded with Corey Wilson netting just four minutes later before he also put the Hatters ahead with another neat finish in the 34th minute.

Blues fought back in search of an equaliser but were unable to convert the chances coming their way.

And those wasted opportunities came back to haunt the Shrimpers midway through the second half when Wilson completed his hat-trick.

Blues will now be looking to bounce back when they host Peterborough United at Boots & Laces on Saturday, kick-off 11am.

Blues: Taylor, Chandler, Bragg, Brogan, Shala (Davis 46), Wallace, Eastwood, Coker, Mpenga (Anyidike 81), Brown (Lambourne 71), Unwin