SOUTHEND United's under 18 captain Jimmy Wallace hailed a “good bunch of boys” after helping his side clinch the EFL Youth Alliance Merit League Two title with a 2-1 win away to Peterborough United on Saturday.

Second-year scholar Wallace, who was making the 67th and final U18s appearance of his career with the club, was delighted that the squad had managed to seize their opportunity to succeed after Northampton Town had slipped up in their penultimate fixture earlier in the day.

“It’s been a superb day,” he declared.

“It’s been all the boys have talked about because it was our last game as a youth team. We reminded ourselves that they had beaten us in the other league, so we wanted to go out and finish strongly and get the win.”

The fixture Wallace referenced was a 2-1 defeat to Posh at the same venue in February which sealed the South East Conference title for the hosts and meant Blues couldn’t usurp their opponents by triumphing in their final two matches.

“It was a motivation for us,” Wallace confirmed.

“We talked to each other and told ourselves that it couldn’t happen again, so we stuck together and got the job done.”

“We always believed we could do it, all through the season. We knew that if we kept winning our games and doing our jobs then it would keep the pressure up.”

“Luckily Northampton were beaten and we went on to get the win.

"We knew what was happening in their game, but Danny [Heath, youth team coach] didn’t want us to focus on that; he wanted us to concentrate on our game.”

Wallace, like team-mates Bobby Unwin and Oli Coker, had featured in the squad two seasons ago when the club last claimed a Merit League title, and he was delighted that another championship delivered a full stop on his time as an under 18 player.

“The goal was their first shot on target and, when that went in, we had to react. We had to make sure it didn’t happen again, and we managed to get the job done,” he said.

“It meant a lot. It was the last game, so it was a little bit sad, but it’s good that we’ve finished like this. It’s a good bunch of boys and it’s a nice way for us to sign off.”