Southend United 3 Villa 0
Two quality goals from Sean O’Loughlin booked Southend United’s place in the last sixteen of the National Under-17 Cup after this well-deserved home win over Villa on Sunday last.
The game was up for Villa when O’Loughlin struck twice, and another from Robbie Burke put Southend in the driving seat as they went into the half-time break three goals to the good.
The opening twenty minutes was fairly even but once Southend got in front there was no way back for Villa. Southend are now one game away from the quarter-finals with every chance of going all the way to the final. This is a big strong side who are well organised and they also carry a high degree of skill.
At the back Paddy Barrett and Anthony Fitzpatrick were solid and never gave the Villa attack a look at goal, while in the middle Craig Keane and Mark Phelan simply ran the show. Up front O’Loughlin and Burke always threatened.
From the opening whistle Southend had Villa on the back foot and the visitors had to defend well to keep the United strikers at bay, though both had early chances which went wide of the far post.
On 20 minutes Stuart Mitchell got away down the right but his low cross into the box was swept wide by the inrushing Glen Hawe. Villa then broke on the counter attack on 25 minutes: Eoin Kindlon played in Jack Gaule but just as the striker was about to pull the trigger Paddy Barrett came across to whip the ball off his toe.
Southend opened the scoring on 29 minutes. Chris Dempsey hurled a long throw in into the box the Villa defence could only half clear and O’Loughlin fired home a powerful drive from 14 yards into the bottom corner past Karl Byrne.
Five minutes before half-time Southend hit Villa with a double whammy. On 43 minutes Mark Phelan drove a corner deep into the Villa box: Robbie Burke was left completely unmarked and his header crossed the line before Adam Potter could retrieve it.
Right on the stroke of half-time Southend hit goal number three, Glen Hawe showed wonderful footwork wide on the left and his low cross was superbly turned home by O’Loughlin.
The game as a contest was over as the second half got underway. Southend continued to attack as O’Loughlin, Burke, Mitchell and Martin O’Neill all had chances but they failed to hit the target. Near the finish, for the first time in the game Jack Gaule got behind the Southend defence but his fine volley was superbly tipped over the bar by Southend goalkeeper Dale Sheridan.
Southend Utd: Dale Sheridan, Chris Dempsey, Gavin O’Brien (Kieran Power, 80 mins),Paddy Barrett, Anthony Fitzpatrick, Craig Keane, Mark Phelan, Stuart Mitchell, Sean O’Loughlin (David Kennedy, 77), Robbie Burke (Martin O’Neill, 72), Glen Hawe.
Villa: Karl Byrne, Adam Potter, Jamie Cross (David Cooley, 72mins), Wayne Robinson, Shane Hayes, Tom O’Brien (Conor Coad, h/t), Eoin Kinlon, Barry Power (Mark Hobbs, 81), Jack Gaule, Dean McGarry, Andrew Baxter.
Referee: Gavin Keyes.