Sam Alderson scored a late winner to hand Leyton Orient U18s an impressive 1-0 win against Peterborough United.
Despite the O’s squad being heavily depleted by a number of injuries, Andy Edwards’ side showed great unity and settled the tie with Alderson’s curling 82nd minute effort into the far corner.
Following a fairly scrappy start to the match, chances were at a minimum as both sides looked organised at the back and tried to gain control of the midfield.
With just under 15 minutes played the O’s did nearly work an opening when Montel Agyemang picked out the run of Sam Alderson down the left with a diagonal ball, but the midfielders low ball across the box could not be bundled home by Freddy Moncur.
That was to be the closest Orient came during what was a tight first half but Peterborough created two chances as the half came to a close. First Jonny Edwards shrugged off two challenges and fired a shot wide before Tobi Adebayo-Rowling shot straight at Sam Sargeant, who was making his first U18 appearance of the season in the O’s goal.
With Victor Adeboyejo with the first team, Shola Oladipo led the O’s attack and could have opened the scoring six minutes after the break. Harry Andic broke into the box and the Peterborough defence could only poke the ball away from him and into the path of Oladipo who drilled a shot wide.
Midfielder Nick Brown then looked to follow up his FA Youth Cup strike with another goal just after the hour but was only able to curl his effort wide of the post before being replaced by Josh Koroma.
Koroma had made his U18 debut in Tuesday’s loss to Colchester as a late substitute but was given much more time to make an impact with just less than 25 minutes left to play.
The forward wasted little time in getting involved as a minute later he proved a nuisance for the Peterborough defence, nicking the ball on the edge of the box before forcing Peterborough ‘keeper Henrich Ravas into pushing his shot behind for a corner.
Koroma was making a big impact on the tie and on the 71st minute he broke down the left as Orient attacked in numbers before picking out Andic at the far post who controlled the ball well but was only able to volley narrowly wide.
Despite the tie looking to be swinging in their favour, O’s goalkeeper Sargeant had to be at full stretch to push away Liam Marshall’s shot from distance on the 78th minute.
Oladipo’s pace was causing the visitors problems as he looked to get in behind the defence and with ten minutes remaining the forward broke through but could only fire straight at Ravas.
Two minutes later however the O’s did make the breakthrough, with Koroma heavily involved. The substitute picked the ball up in the middle and drove towards the Peterborough box before playing the ball to Sam Alderson on the left. Alderson then kept his composure on the edge of the box to sweep the ball into the bottom far corner and beyond the reach of Ravas.
Koroma then had a chance to wrap the game up on the 89th minute when he ran onto Oladipo’s pass but he was quickly closed down by two defenders and could only poke the ball wide.
There was then a brief scare for the O’s a minute later when Sargeant was unable to claim a cross which dropped to Marshall ten yards out, but his strike cannoned back off the post and Orient held on for the victory.
Delighted with the win, Academy Director Andy Edwards was pleased with the character his players showed.
“We had seven players unavailable today and I thought it was a great opportunity for a few players who haven’t been playing regularly and also for a few under 16s to step up,” said Edwards.
“I thought they did that with real quality and it was an excellent team performance. Peterborough are a very strong side but we had good discipline and there was great leadership amongst the group which was very pleasing.”
ORIENT: Sam Sargeant, Myles Judd, Michael Clark, Aron Pollock, Kane Adams, Montel Agyemang, Nick Brown (Josh Koroma 66), Harry Andic, Freddy Moncur (C), Sam Alderson, Shola Oladipo
SUBS: Jesse Amoh, Charley Barker
GOALS: Sam Alderson (82)
PETERBOROUGH: Henrich Ravas, James Ward, Ollie Luto, Joe Hood (Tye Phillips 80), Liam Marshall (C), Harry Anderson, Ben Keating, Jonny Edwards, Jack Friend, Tobi Adebayo-Rowling
SUBS: Ethan Lee, Will Paterson, Oli Humphrey, Leonardo Da Silva-Lopes