Victor Adeboyejo’s second half strike was enough to hand Leyton Orient U18s a 1-0 victory over Gillingham on Saturday.
Orient dominated the tie for long periods but had to wait until the 60th minute when Adeboyejo showed good composure to chip the ball over the rushing Gillingham goalkeeper and claim his 10th goal of the season.
With both Kane Adams and Nick Brown missing through injury, Christian Owusu and Victor Adeboyejo returned to the starting line-up whilst Scott Kashket made his first youth team appearance since the end of September in place of Harry Andic, who dropped down to the bench.
The O’s started the match positively and on the 6th minute Victor Adeboyejo tested Gillingham goalkeeper Charlie Haigh with a powerful drive from the corner of the box that was parried behind for a corner.
Five minutes later the striker went even closer when Freddy Moncur’s scooped pass over the defence dropped to Scott Kashket in the box before rolling through to Adeboyejo. The 16-year-old managed to loop the ball over Haigh but Gillingham’s Mitchell Dickenson raced back in time to head it over the bar.
From the resulting corner Orient had the ball in the net when Kashket’s delivery evaded everyone and curled in at the far post, but the referee disallowed the goal for an apparent foul on the ‘keeper.
That was to be the final chance the O’s created during the early exchanges as Gillingham settled into the tie and prevented the hosts from working any more clear cut chances.
Having had little to do throughout the first half, Orient goalkeeper Sam Sargeant was forced into making a save on the 34th minute when he dived low to his right to push Danny Leonard’s shot round the post for a corner.
Montel Agyemang then had a wonderful chance to put the O’s ahead four minutes later as he received Adeboyejo’s pass unmarked inside the box but the midfielder was unable to keep the shot down as it flew agonisingly over the bar.
After the break both sides continued to cancel each other out and chances for either side were non-existent until Kashket fired a shot straight at Haigh on the 57th minute.
Three minutes later Adeboyejo broke the deadlock as Orient took the lead following one of their more direct attacks. With Gillingham high up the pitch, Sam Alderson played a long ball forward for Adeboyejo to chase to which the striker used his body well to muscle his way through before calmly chipping the ball over Haigh.
The goal had been a long time coming and the O’s could have doubled their lead through substitute Josh Koroma on the 64th minute when his shot from the edge of the box took a huge deflection and looped over the crossbar.
As the half wore on Gillingham began to throw more bodies into attack but the O’s defence worked well as a unit and Sargeant was rarely troubled throughout.
With less than seven minutes left to play Orient nearly scored a sublime second when Agyemang sprayed the ball out to Shola Oladipo on the left who then beat his man and cut the ball back for Koroma on the edge of the box. The substitute then raced on to the pass and curled a first time shot towards the top corner with the outside of his boot but his effort was tipped over the bar.
There was to be no second goal for Orient however as they held on for the 1-0 victory to claim their third win in four League matches.
ORIENT: Sam Sargeant, Myles Judd, Michael Clark, Jack Humphrey, Sam Alderson, Christian Owusu (Josh Koroma 59), Freddy Moncur, Montel Agyemang, Shola Oladipo, Scott Kashket, Victor Adeboyejo
SUBS: Charlie Barker, Harry Andic
GOALS: Adeboyejo (60)
GILLINGHAM: Chris Haigh, Callum Emptage, Ricardo Thompson, Mitchell Dickenson, Sam Stewart, Ben Chapman, Danny Leonard (Dan Adams 80), Sam Lawford (Treon Johnson 46), Harry Stannard (Bradley Stevenson 66), Greg Cundle, Joe Nougbele
SUBS: Jake O’Brien