A SECOND half Harry Parsons brace guided Swindon Town Under 18s to a crucial Merit League win over Southend United this afternoon, keeping David Farrell’s side’s title dreams alive.

Parsons’ two well taken goals were complimented by Luke Haines’ second minute header, which handed Town a one-goal lead at half time.

The visitors found a way past home ‘keeper Sam Smith twice in the second half, but that proved irrel-evant as Town scooped three useful points to move within three points of division leaders Oxford United with a game in hand.

Southend’s lack of discipline undoubtedly hurt their chances, and Farrell was pleased that his young-sters translated work from the classroom onto the pitch.

He said: “It was a very different part of their education today. We knew Southend would be good in possession.

“We retreated a little bit and let them have the ball in their own half so they wouldn’t hurt us.

“We kept our discipline and our shape, and didn’t press them too hard. These boys are so eager to learn and press, but today’s game didn’t warrant that approach.

“Today was about keeping our discipline, forcing Southend into wide areas and staying compact.

“For 99 per cent of the game, we did that. Both of their goals came from tight areas, sometimes that happens.”

Under 16s player Harry Parsons again stood out as one man to keep an eye on.

A glancing header on the hour mark immediately re-established Town’s one-goal lead after the visitors equalised moments earlier.

He then benefitted from the brave work of Sonny Haynes to take control of the ball on the edge of the area and advance forward to score from eight yards.

Both goals pleased Farrell, who admits he is looking forward to working with Town’s hottest young prospect on a full-time basis next season.

He added: “The goals we scored on the break were brilliant, they were exactly what we look for.

“When we’ve got Harry Parsons up front, we know we’ve always got half a chance. The kid flying, even though he’s at U16s level.

“I’m looking forward to working with him on a full-time basis next year. Not just him, everybody.

“There are some big decisions to be made. Ralph Graham (second-year scholar) had fantastic energy levels today.

“Even the substitutes showed great energy. It was a really pleasing day.

“We’ve got games in hand, but teams in front of us have points on the board. It’s a boring cliché, but one game at a time is key at the moment.”

Town U18s are back in Merit League action on Saturday at Bournemouth – a side they lost to 5-0 earlier this season – before hosting Yeovil Town next Wednesday (1pm) at Stanley Park.