SOUTHEND United coach Craig Fagan praised the latest crop of Shrimpers’ youngsters after tonight’s 0-0 draw at Hullbridge Sports.

The young Blues side held their more experienced counterparts to a goalless stalemate.

And Fagan was impressed by how his players stood up to a more physical test.

“I don’t know how we do it but we constantly have lads who can step up and look like they can handle it which is good for the football club,” said Fagan.

“It was a young team for us out there and it’s not the 23s I’ve had because they’re all in the first team.

“But one thing I liked about tonight was the desire to win tackles, to run around with a purpose and the younger lads came in with the enthusiasm to do that.

“They kept the football as well and played some decent stuff.

“I thought some of them were a bit nervous to start off with.

“They were scared to give the ball away which led to that happening.

“But after the first 10 or 15 minutes they did a lot better and grew in confidence so I was very impressed.”

Blues started brightly at Lower Road with Kenny Coker going twice to scoring early on.

O’Shane Stewart then saw an effort well saved by Hullbridge goalkeeper Laurence Whymark.

In reply, Hullbridge – who included former Gillingham striker Jay Emmanuel Thomas in their starting line-up – forced Blues goalkeeper Callum Taylor into two fine stops at the other end of the pitch.

After the break, Shrimpers midfielder Jon Benton saw a well-struck shot tipped over by Whymark before his opposite number Taylor made two smart saves to keep Hullbridge at bay.

Late on, Blues’ Oli Coker saw a low effort saved and Fagan felt lessons were learnt all over the pitch.

“Kenny Coker is young and Tayo (Adejoya) is a young first year and it’s a great way of them learning for them, along with the likes of Oli Coker who came in and was excellent tonight,” said Fagan.

“They are all at different stages but everyone is learning against a tough, more physical opponent is good and they stood up to it.”

That included goalkeeper Taylor who made a number of fine saves.

“Callum made some good saves and he needs to play games,” said Taylor.

“We will try to get as many out on loan as possible but the problem is we can’t send too many out because they’re with the first team at the moment.

“But the lads who are with me I’ll be getting them as many games as possible.

“We will be in our normal league and the normal cup but I’ll looking to organise other games to give them different types of football which is what they need.”

Southend United: Taylor, Chandler, Mitchell-Nelson, Arrowsmith, Brogan, Stewart, Benton, O Coker, K Coker, Adedoja