SOUTHEND United’s under-23 coach Craig Fagan felt his young side would have learnt lessons from this afternoon's 3-1 defeat against a strong MK Dons in the Central League Cup.

Dons raced into a 3-0 lead before Charlie Kelman netted a late penalty for the Shrimpers.

And Fagan felt Blues paid the price for showing their hosts too much respect.

“MK Dons had six or seven first team players playing but it would have been a good learning curve for our boys,” said Fagan.

“Being honest, we probably showed them too much respect and we needed to get in their faces more.

“We need to be horrible to play against like we have been in the past few weeks.”

Sam Nombe fired the Dons in front before Brennan Dickenson bagged a brace.

However, there were still aspects of play which pleased Fagan, including the return of Kelman who had been out since September with an ankle injury.

“Charlie’s enthusiasm to play can never be questioned and he seemed more like a mature first team player coming back rather than a young 18-year-old,” said Fagan.

“He showed a great attitude and got his goal which was pleasing.”

But Fagan was also pleased with the performance of midfielder Harry Phillips, who is now back with Blues after a loan spell at Billericay Town.

“There can be no denying Harry’s ability on the ball and his technique but I had questioned his work off the ball,” said Fagan.

“That’s what he needs to work on to push on but if I had to pick someone out for their work off the ball in this game then it would be him.

“Charlie and Matt Rush did well where that was concerned too and we need to see more of it.”

However, Blues will have to wait for their chance to put things right.

“As it stands we don’t have another game until we play MK Dons again on January 17,” said Fagan.

“We’ll be trying to get another game arranged before then but this will be one for the players to think about and it needs to be a kick up the backside for them really.

“It’s not the way we wanted to finish the year but it’s one I’m sure we will learn from.”

Southend United: C Taylor, Howard, Clifford, Osimeh, Mitchell-Nelson, Egbri (R Taylor 55), Phillips, Rush, Kinali, Stewart (Burnett 55), Acquah (Kelman 55)

Substitutes not used: Grossart & Eastwood