Leyton Orient U18’s were unlucky to lose their opening Youth Alliance League game of the season as second half strikes from Dodzi Agbenu and Kieran Fitzgerald condemned the O’s to a 2-0 defeat against Northampton Town on Saturday.
It was Orient who enjoyed the better of a tight first half between the teams, with Josh Uzun registering the hosts’ first opportunity on goal after five minutes that Town Goalkeeper Ben Heath comfortably saved. Soloman Ducos was then on hand to test Heath in the 12th minute, but on this occasion his instinctive snapshot drew a more impressive save from the stopper.
The visiting goalkeeper was the much busier of the two during the early proceedings, and Heath was once again called into action to deny Elyon Egbeku in the 20th minute following good work from Uzun.
It took a further six minutes for Northampton to register their first attempt on target after midfielder Danny Clifton drove at the O’s defence and unleashed a drive straight at Charlie Grainger, who was finally called into action.
The start of the second half mirrored that of the first, with Uzun first to test Heath as Orient continued to look the more likely scorers. The winger did well to cut in from the left but his curling shot was always rising over the bar.
The best chance of the game so far then fell to the home side in the 60th minute, as Uzun superbly evaded a couple of challenges before sliding his pass in the direction of Egbeku, but the forward was brilliantly denied by Heath with only the goalkeeper to beat.
This appeared to be a pivotal moment in the game as just six minutes later the visitors took the lead through Agbenu. After the Orient defence failed to sufficiently deal with a Northampton corner, the striker took advantage to unleash a drive from the edge of the six-yard box that Grainger was unable to deal with, giving the visitors the lead against the run of play.
Despite the setback Orient remained positive and continued to push forward as they now looked for a route back into the game, with Egbeku and Uzun once again testing Heath. But with six minutes of normal time remaining Fitzgerald doubled Northampton’s lead to seal victory, taking advantage of a lapse in concentration in the O’s defence before placing his shot past Grainger.
Despite the disappointment of defeat manager Andy Edwards was still able draw on positives from the game. “I thought defensively we looked quite solid and sound,” he said. “We defended very well for much of the game. If you look at it on the whole I think they’ve had three efforts on goal of which they scored two from. Up until the first goal we looked very solid. But unfortunately we didn’t have enough of a cutting edge in the final third today.”
Orient: Charlie Grainger (C), Sam Ling, Jack Humphrey, Alex Finney (Kevin Kwarteng – 71), Andis Nikalou, Lawson Okameji, Sinclaire Sandy, Josh Uzun, Kelly Cameron (Freddy Moncur – 74), Soloman Ducos (Shola Oladipo – 62), Elyon Egbeku. Subs not used: Kane Adams, Nick Brown
Northampton Town: Ben Heath, Danny Harmon, Merdy Mari, Tyler Reeve, Sam Warburton, Connor Roberts (C), Ryan Cooke, Danny Clifton, Dodzi Agbenu, Kieran Fitzgerald, Callum Powell. Subs not used: Richard Parker, Brendan Brown, Ryan Marsden, Shaun McWilliams
Goals: Agbenu (66), Fitzgerald (84)