SOUTHEND United's under 18 side moved up to second place in the EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference table with a 3-0 victory over Milton Keynes Dons at Boots & Laces.

The teenage Shrimpers are now just one point behind leaders Luton Town with two matches in hand following this success, which was earned thanks to Oli Coker’s 11th-minute penalty and second-half strikes by Damaray Anyadike and Cameron Brown.

Central defender Tommy Davis was handed the captain’s armband for the first time, and he was involved in the first action of the match in the fifth minute when he got back to challenge a visiting forward, forcing him wide and enabling goalkeeper Jamie Grossart to make a comfortable save.

Six minutes later it was the home team on the front foot and Blues edged ahead thanks to Coker’s spot-kick.

The penalty was awarded after Louie Arrowsmith was clipped by a defender as he entered the area, and second-year scholar Coker made no mistake by converting his fifth goal of the season.

The goal brought the midfielder level with Tayo Adedoja as leading scorer for the youth team this season, although the first-year forward had an opportunity to add to his own tally after a quarter-of-an-hour, only to take a heavy touch and allow a defender to make an important challenge.

Blues burst out of the blocks in the second period and could have doubled their advantage within a minute of the kick-off when Habib's Bolarinwa’s right-wing cross was volleyed straight at the goalkeeper by Shenouda.

The Shrimpers had enjoyed a lot of success with lofted passes over the top for their quicker players to latch onto, and that proved to be the catalyst for a second goal with 15 minutes remaining when Anyadike brought substitute Jimmy Wallace’s pass under control and steered his shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Having finally doubled their advantage Southend were able to relax, and they could have added a third goal on 80 minutes when Coker’s shot was blocked by the hand of a defender.

The midfielder, who has appeared twice for the first team this term, slipped as he took the penalty and directed it against the top of the crossbar.

Coker almost atoned for the miss late in the match when he received the ball after a fine passing move but he dragged his shot narrowly wide and, in stoppage time, he saw another effort blocked, with Unwin smashing the rebound over.

However, by then Southend had further extended their lead and done enough to register a 3-0 victory thanks to their final goal.

Coker was involved again, breaking into the penalty area before sending a cross into the box.

That was retrieved on the far side and Brown engineered some space 25 yards out before curling majestically into the top right-hand corner.

Southend United U18s: Grossart, Bolarinwa (Wallace 72), Arrowsmith (Unwin 59), Burkey, Davis, Reeve, Damaray Anyadike, Crowhurst (Garzon 77), Adedoja, O Coker, Shenouda (Brown 59).

Unused substitute: Purcell.