Leyton Orient U18s started 2015 with a slender 1-0 loss at home to league leaders Barnet.
Playing their first game since the Christmas break, Orient welcomed back defender Aron Pollock in defence as one of four changes to the team that lost against MK Dons.
Blistering wind swept across the pitch from the first whistle and the difficult weather conditions made it hard for both sides in what was a scrappy start to the match.
Despite the conditions it was Orient who threatened to open the scoring first when Freddy Moncur played a short corner before bending in a left footed cross that forced Barnet goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle to punch away. The rebound dropped to O’s skipper Sam Ling but his effort was blocked by a number of Barnet defenders.
Neither side was keeping possession for long as rain started fall but it was the visitors who grew into the match and started to take a foothold on the tie and created several opportunities.
First Orient were slow to react from a throw-in and Barnet worked the ball through to striker George Booker inside the box but O’s goalkeeper Sam Sargeant raced off his line to make himself big and block the shot.
Two minutes later Sargeant was called into action again to deny Shane Cojocarel and with the O’s goal coming under increasing pressure the stopper had to get down low soon after to keep out Jack Taylor’s attempt and put the ball behind for a corner.
Despite the visitors creating a number of chances over a short period Orient settled back into the match and Nick Brown crashed a shot over the bar having combined well with Moncur in midfield.
The weather continued to make life difficult for both sets of players and as the half reached a close Orient striker Victor Adeboyejo saw a shot blocked which Moncur ran on to but could only slice his effort wide of the goal.
Following the break conditions improved and it was Barnet who had the first chance after the interval when Keir Dickson curled effort flashed wide.
Orient were struggling to work many openings going forward but with 25 minutes left to go Andy Edwards side created a great chance. Adeboyejo bullied his way down the right and cut the ball back for Moncur inside the box but the midfielder failed to get the desired contact and the shot curled away from goal.
Ten minutes later Orient were made to rue the missed chance however as Barnet took the lead when Sargeant’s pass out of the back was intercepted by Cojocarel and the forward squared the ball to Booker who swept the ball into the goal.
Envious to quickly get back into the tie, Adeboyejo came close to grabbing a quick equaliser for the O’s as he knocked the ball to the side of McKenzie-Lyle but at a difficult angle his shot was eventually saved.
Searching for a way back into the match Orient changed to a 4-4-2 formation as Shola Oladipo joined Adeboyejo in attack but with the O’s pushing forward Barnet threatened on the counter.
The visitors could have put the tie to bed with six minutes remaining as Cojocarel raced through one-on-one only to see his effort expertly tipped wide by the fingertips of Sargeant.
With the clock ticking down Orient continued to find it hard to work a way into the Barnet penalty area and with seconds remaining the ball dropped to Oladipo on the edge but the forward couldn’t salvage a point as his shot curled over the bar.
ORIENT: Sam Sargeant, Sam Ling (C) (Michael Clark 80), Aron Pollock (Harry Andic 85), Jack Humphrey, Kane Adams, Montel Agyemang, Nick Brown, Christian Owusu (Sam Alderson 60), Freddy Moncur, Shola Oladipo, Victor Adeboyejo
BOOKINGS: Brown (89)
BARNET: Kai McKenzie-Lyle, Harry Taylor (C), Keir Dickson, Wesley Fonguck, Joe Gater, Charlie Kennedy, Jack Taylor, Shane Cojocarel, George Booker, Nana Kyei, Fumnaya Shomotun (Hakeem Odofin 69)
SUBS: Elliott Harris, Ryan Gondoh
GOALS: Booker (76)
BOOKINGS: Gater (89), Dickson (90)