Leyton Orient U18’s started their Youth Alliance League campaign with an entertaining 3-3 draw at Barnet.
Orient found themselves 2-0 down after 23 minutes but a fine penalty save from Ben Card inspired an O’s comeback, with Nick Brown pulling one back before half-time. Victor Adeboyejo scored a second half brace but the visitors were unable to hold out for the win as Barnet scored a 75th minute equaliser to grab a point.
Andy Edwards’ side came into the match with a 100% record from pre-season but got off to the worst possible start, falling behind after only 52 seconds when Barnet’s Nana Emmanuel was set free down the left and curled a right-footed effort past Orient goalkeeper Ben Card.
Orient’s task was then made even harder when Barnet doubled their lead on the 23rd minute after Emmanuel wriggled through several challenges inside the box and squared the ball for Joe Gater to slot home from six yards.
Appearing to be second best, Orient conceded a penalty in the 37th minute when Aron Pollock clipped Jack Taylor inside the box. 3-0 would have surely put the game to bed but Card guessed correctly, diving to his right to keep out Fumnaya Shomotum’s spot kick.
Card’s penalty save appeared to boost the visitors and three minutes later substitute Nick Brown pulled a goal back for the O’s with a low left-footed drive from the edge of the box.
Edwards half-time team talk had a clear effect on the players after the restart, as Orient improved dramatically and equalised four minutes into the second half when Victor Adeboyejo managed to get on the end of Scott Kashket’s cross and lift the ball over the diving Kai McKenzie-Lyle in the Barnet goal.
Adeboyejo then completed the Orient turnaround on the 66th minute in spectacular fashion. Having controlled Myles Judd’s cross from the right, the striker turned and unleashed an unstoppable drive from 18-yards that flew in off the bar, leaving McKenzie-Lyle with no chance.
Barnet pushed forward in search of an equaliser and Card continued his fine form with two saves in quick succession, but the goalkeeper was unable to keep out the following attempt as the hosts equalised with 15 minutes remaining.
Orient failed to clear their lines and Emmanuel was left with enough time and space to curl an effort from outside the box into the bottom right corner via the post.
Barnet had a great chance to win the match in the 86th minute but substitute Ryan Gondoh’s volley crashed back off the bar and neither side managed to find the elusive winner as the match ended even.
Looking back on the game, manager Andy Edwards felt his side showed good character to respond in the way they did.
“I’m pleased with how the team responded. We’ve had a really good pre-season but all of the principles and the foundations we laid throughout pre-season seemed to go out of the window in the first half,” said Edwards.
He continued: “We didn’t start particularly well and we found ourselves deservedly 2-0 down. The Ben Card penalty save kept us in it and gave us a lift and we were then handed a lifeline with the goal just before half-time. We managed to put things right at half-time and improve in the second half and I felt we should have gone on to win the game.”
“Overall I’m disappointed with the performance but pleased with the response from the players and hopefully they have learned from the game today.”
ORIENT: Ben Card, Myles Judd, Aron Pollock, Jack Humphrey, Sam Ling (c), Shola Oladipo (Nick Brown 30), Freddy Moncur, Montel Ageymang, Sandro Semedo, Scott Kashket (Christian Owusu 82), Victor Adeboyejo
SUBS: Sam Sargent, Michael Clarke, Jake Burgess
GOALS: Nick Brown (40), Victor Adeboyejo (49 & 66)
BARNET: Kai McKenzie-Lyle, Brendan Ocran, Harry Taylor (c), Joe Gater, Keir Dickson, Charlie Kennedy (Elliot Harris 55), Fumnaya Shomotum (Hakeem Odofin 70), Jack Taylor, Nana Emmanuel, Shane Cojocarel (Ryan Gondoh 77), Matthew Stevens
SUBS: Brian Testolin, George Berks
GOALS: Nana Emmanuel (1 & 75), Joe Gater (23)