A CHANGE in formation during the second period proved integral to Southend United under 18s continuing their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win away to Cambridge United on Saturday.

Cameron Brown deftly flicked in Oli Coker’s 57th minute free-kick to put Blues in front before Adetayo Adedoja slotted home the second with a little under a quarter-of-an-hour to play.

But the visitors to Clare College Sports Ground had struggled up to that point and were indebted to goalkeeper Jamie Grossart for his first-half penalty save.

And Shrimpers coach Craig Fagan felt a change of system was key.

“We changed the shape slightly in the second half and put two up top and that helped,” said Fagan.

“It allowed us to get more runners in behind and we were more of a threat. That caused Cambridge a problem and they started to panic a bit more and give us more opportunities in the final third.”

The hosts that were presented with a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when Anyadike was adjudged to have tripped an attacker as he entered the penalty area.

The Southend defence had not been breached for approaching 300 minutes at that stage, and Grossart maintained that record by guessing correctly and pushing the spot-kick around the right-hand post.

Cambridge continued to build possession from the back but Grossart – with Davis, Wallace, Ergis Shala and Louie Arrowsmith in front of him – continued to repel the danger with little tangible threat up to the half-time interval.

Southend improved after the break and went in front after 57 minutes when Coker drilled a dangerous delivery into the box.

Anyadike was stationed in front of the goalkeeper, leaving him unsighted as Brown ghosted in and flicked the ball through his legs from a couple of yards out.

With 15 minutes remaining, Blues had the opportunity to move further clear as Adedoja latched onto an inch-perfect Jaden Crowhurst through-ball and attempted to round the goalkeeper.

The Cambridge gloveman brought him down, but he immediately atoned for the error by parrying Coker’s penalty kick to safety.

But Southend did double their advantage within 60 seconds when Coker found Adedoja just inside Cambridge territory.

The first-year scholar showed his strength to hold off a defender before entering the penalty area and steering his third goal in the last three matches into the bottom left-hand corner.

The second goal finally broke the spirits of the home side, and Blues almost added a third in the 79th minute when substitute Bobby Unwin curled a 30-yard free-kick against the top of the crossbar.

Southend return to Boots & Laces next Saturday to protect the only unbeaten record in the division against Peterborough United.

Southend United: Grossart, Davis, Arrowsmith, Burkey, Shala, Wallace, Anyadike (Unwin 76), Crowhurst, Adedoja, Coker, Brown.

Subs not used: Garzon & Reeve.