Blues give five-star display

12 Jul

A mixture of trialists and youngsters combined to brush away nearby Great Wakering Rovers in a stylish rout. The only contracted, senior, player in the starting line up, Luke Prosser, was given the captains armband, but the man who stole the headlines was a trialist trying to reignite his career, Rohan Ricketts.

His first chance came when Jake Thomson cut the ball back into the path of the ex-Arsenal and Spurs man, but his shot was blocked from close range. The two linked again minutes later, after a poor defensive clearance fell to Thomson’s feet, before he played in Ricketts, who weaved past two defenders and the goalkeeper, and then slotted into the back of net, demonstrating why he was once on the border of an England call-up.

This class was once again shown as yet another defensive clearance was deftly controlled by the wideman, who took a touch before curling his shot into the top right hand corner of the goal.

It may not come as a surprise then, that a penalty was given early in the second half after a long mazy run down the line before cutting into the box, although what may be a surprise was that it was the young right back, Ryan Leonard, who was recently released by Plymouth, that was cut down in the penalty area. Ricketts stepped up and coolly completed his hat-trick, slotting into the bottom left corner.

The substitutions started and the pace and competitiveness of the game slowed, but no-one appeared to tell the younger substitutes; Harry Crawford picking the ball up 20 yards out and smashing into the bottom corner, while Kyle Asante also created a chance out of nothing, his curling shot dipping onto the top of the crossbar.

The next goal, and Southend’s fifth, however, was by far from the furthest out, despite Ricketts’ and Crawford’s fine strikes. A defensive clearance from 19 year old Ryan Leonard looped up and over the keeper from 60 yards out, and into the back of the net, perhaps even topping his 30 yard piledriver from 24 hours before.

Overall, signs were promising, many of the younger players, such as Merrick James-Lewis and Teddy Nesbitt, looked impressive, and will surely be pushing for a first team place next season.

The trialists were slightly less impressive, Ricketts’ was clearly a class above, simply lacking in match sharpness, Leonard and 21 year old Welling captain Jack Parkinson were solid at the back, and would be decent signings as back-up, but others failed to live up to expectations. Darren Currie showed vision and a footballing brain but his ageing body appeared to be unable to keep up, while Jake Thomson started brightly, but soon faded, his fancy footwork being replaced a lazy and sluggish attitude, which has earnt him so much criticism elsewhere. Carlo Thomas’ brief stint towards the end of the game showed moments of potential, but was heavily masked by an out of depth performance in many respects.

However, this game showed huge potential for the season ahead for the Shrimpers, and considering few members of the first team took part, with the likes of Neil Harris, Ryan Hall, Bilel Mohsni, Barry Corr, Chris Barker and Anthony Grant all watching on, it could be a successful season ahead.

Southend (4-3-3): Daniel Bentley, Ryan Leonard, Jack Parkinson, Luke Prosser (Graham Coughlan), Teddy Nesbitt (Peter Gilbert), Alex Woodyard (Lee Sawyer), Merrick James-Lewis (Carlo Thomas), Jamie Stevens (Alassane N’Diaye), Darren Currie (Harry Crawford), Jake Thomson (George Smith), Rohan Ricketts (Kyle Asante


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