Leyton Orient U18’s slipped to another defeat as they were beaten 3-1 at home by Luton Town on Saturday. An own goal from Elyon Egbeku and fellow strikes from Zane Banton and Charlie Smith inflicted the damage on the hosts, whose solitary goal came from Freddy Moncur.
The O’s were also forced to play the last 22 minutes with ten men after defender Andis Nikolau was shown a straight red card by referee Luis Nunes.
There was not much to choose between either side during the first 15 minutes, as both sets of players adjusted to the wet conditions. The first clear-cut chance of the match fell to Luton in the 18th minute, as Orient goalkeeper Charlie Grainger denied Osamu Allman. The Luton midfielder had attempted to guide his shot into the far corner after cutting in from the left, but his effort was met by an impressive save.
The Orient stopper was again on hand to keep honours even seven minutes later when he got down well to keep out Jemale McKenzie-Lowe’s well-hit drive at the expense of a corner. However it was from the resulting set piece that the Hatters took the lead after the corner was flicked on to the far post, and as Egbeku attempted to clear the ball off the line but ended up diverting it into his own net.
The away side then doubled their lead in the 34th minute when Banton skipped away from a challenge on the edge of the area before placing his shot to perfection leaving Grainger with no chance. The O’s nearly pulled a goal back immediately after the restart, but Soloman Ducos failed to make sufficient contact with Sinclaire Sandy’s pull-back when well placed in the box.
It was Orient who started the second half on the front foot as they strived to get back into the game and they came close in the 54th minute through Ducos. Two minutes later they were given a route back into the game, as referee Nunes awarded the O’s a penalty after Smith was adjudged to have handled the ball in his own area. Moncur emphatically dispatched the penalty to halve the deficit and offer Orient hope.
The home side then came close to an equaliser in the 61st minute through right-back Sam Ling. The defender had ventured forward to meet Ducos’ cross but his header glanced agonisingly wide.
But with 68 minutes on the clock came the game’s main talking point, as Nikolau was shown a straight red card after conceding a penalty. The defender was ruled to have pulled back substitute Tuki Tayal as the striker looked set to tap into an empty net after Banton had rounded Grainger, denying a goal scoring opportunity in the eyes of ref Nunes.
Despite guessing the right way Grainger was unable to keep out Smith’s penalty, as Luton restored their two-goal advantage.
Although Orient showed good spirit while down to ten men the visitors were able to wind down time, as the O’s succumbed to defeat.
“I thought in between the two boxes we played ok and looked confident,” stated manager Andy Edwards after the game. “I thought we were the better side during the second half and gave ourselves a lifeline with the penalty. We missed a great chance to get back level with Sam Ling’s header, but unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot with the third goal.”
Orient: Charlie Grainger (C), Sam Ling, Kane Adams, Jack Humphrey, Adnis Nikolau, Lawson Okameji (Cameron Kelly – 76), Sinclaire Sandy (Shola Oladipo – 63), Josh Uzun, Soloman Ducos (Kevin Kwarteng – 76), Freddy Moncur, Elyon Egbeku. Subs not used: Ben Bridle-Card
Goals: Moncur (56’ Pen)
Sent off: Nikolau (68)
Luton Town: Ben Barnes, Luke Trottman, Isaac Galliford (Lucas Perry – 88), Ian Rees, Tinashe Chabata, Harry Tampling, Arel Amu, Charlie Smith (C), Jemale McKenzie-Lowe (Daril Ngwala – 63), Zane Banton, Osamu Allman (Tuki Tayal – 63). Subs not used: Craig King, Ekene Amadi
Goals: Egbeku OG (25), Banton (34), Smith (70’ Pen)