U21s beat Shrimpers to go top
AFC Bournemouth moved top of Group A in the Central League Cup after a convincing 4-0 win over Southend United.
Jordan Zemura bagged a double, while there were also goals for Euan Pollock and Christian Saydee.
Shaun Cooper named a young side for the fixture, which saw Owen Bevan, Aaron Roberts, Matt Burgess and Pollock all start from the under-18s squad, with Jake Adams on as a second-half substitute.
The Cherries started strongly and nearly opened the scoring after just six minutes, Pollock being played through and forcing an excellent save out of Harry Seaden.
Ben Greenwood was next to get in behind the Shrimpers’ backline, his low ball evading everyone and going out the other side.
However, the deadlock was broken shortly afterwards, as Zemura was on the end of Glover’s ball to smash home from inside the area.
Up the other end of the pitch, Jon Benton went close with a shot from range, but Cameron Plain stood strong in the Cherries goal.
As Cooper’s side pushed forward, Greenwood caused more problems on the left and it was only the fingertips of Seaden that denied him a spot on the scoresheet.
Moments later and Zemura thought he had doubled the lead, finishing coolly when one-on-one, but the flag was raised for offside to give Southend a lifeline.
In the final action of the half, Seadon this time saved from Bevan, who got on the end of Greenwood’s corner and was unlucky not to score.
Following the break, the hosts should have doubled their tally with a superb team move, Saydee flicking it onto Zemura who played it back for Pollock, the forward scuffing his effort from three yards.
Saydee was then involved again, as his ball struck the arm of a Shrimpers defender and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
The forward stepped up but Seaden guessed correctly and produced a splendid save to keep the deficit at one.
The visitors then had a chance of their own, with Benton squaring it for Matt Rush, but his shot sailed over the bar and didn’t trouble Plain.
Cooper’s side stayed alert and soon got their deserved second, Saydee’s inch-perfect pass finding Pollock for a neat first-time finish.
Within minutes, the Cherries had a third and Zemura had a second. The 21-year-old nicked it on the left, dribbled past two Southend defenders, before cutting inside to finish perfectly with his right foot.
The afternoon was to get better for the Zimbabwe international who, shortly after the restart, picked out Saydee. The teenager pulled the trigger from outside the area and beat Seaden well.
A flurry of chances came the way of the Shrimpers, Rush firstly hitting the side netting, before Plain was called into action to deny second-half substitute Oli Coker.
Benton then had a great opportunity to pull one back, skying his shot from 18-yards, while Brooklyn Genesini tracked back superbly to get in the way of Kenny Coker’s effort moments after.
Zemura had a great chance to complete his hat-trick at the death, Saydee’s backheel working perfectly to find him, but Seaden was quick off his line and got a hand to the shot.
The win means the Cherries sit three points clear at the top of Group A and in a strong position to qualify for the knockout stages.