Nick Brown’s first half goal was not enough as Leyton Orient U18s suffered a late 2-1 defeat at home to Watford.
The midfielder fired the O’s ahead early on with a deflected strike from outside the box but despite going into half time ahead, Orient conceded twice in the final 20 minutes.
On the back of Tuesday’s defeat to Luton, Academy Director Andy Edwards made three changes as captain Sam Ling returned in defence while Kane Adams and Christian Owusu were both handed starts.
Having tasted defeat in their previous three matches Orient started the match brightly and were rewarded for their efforts by taking a 10th minute lead.
Watford could only clear an Orient corner as far as midfielder Nick Brown who brought the ball down well before his drilled effort took a deflection to beat the dive of Arie Allman in the Watford goal.
Opposing striker Michael Folivi then had two attempts in quick succession but neither strike troubled O’s goalkeeper Sam Sargeant who saved comfortably.
Montel Agyemang and Victor Adeboyejo were named on the substitutes bench for the first team at Preston North End on Friday night but both returned to the youth team squad.
Adeboyejo lead the O’s alone in attack and narrowly missed out on adding a second midway through the first half. Having raced onto a ball forward the striker noticed Hornets’ stopper Allmann off his line but was unable to take advantage as his looped effort dropped just over the bar.
Watford continued to press forward in the hope of grabbing an equaliser and could well have gone into the break all square had it not been for a brilliant recovery block by Orient defender Jack Humphrey to deflect Folivi’s shot over the bar.
Orient then had the woodwork to thank twice early into the second half as Watford were denied by both the crossbar and post in a matter of minutes.
Hornets’ defender Harry Kyprianou was the first to be left frustrated as his powerful drive from distance crashed off the bar on the 47th minute.
Four minutes later Joseph Otudeko worked an opening with a mazy run but despite his shot beating the dive of Sargeant, the ball cannoned back off the post and dropped into the hands of the O’s goalkeeper with Folivi lurking.
Orient had got away with a slow start to the second half and failed to make the most of a rare attack soon after. Sargeant’s long kick picked out Adeboyejo but the striker’s hesitation inside the penalty area allowed the Watford defence to get back in numbers and Christian Owusu dragged a difficult shot wide.
Watford substitute Ogo Obi responded with a low shot that looked destined for the bottom corner but Sargeant managed to get across to claw the ball round the post.
The O’s were unable to hold on for much longer however as Watford grabbed an equaliser on the 70th minute when Dennon Lewis’ cross ricocheted off Orient defender Myles Judd and Folivi before going in off the Watford striker.
Orient looked to quickly try and regain their lead but despite good work down the left, Shola Oladipo’s delivery into the box twice evaded a red shirt as the game reached the closing stages.
With just over five minutes remaining Watford’s Lewis came close to firing the visitors ahead having intercepted a loose pass but his shot was pushed behind for a corner.
From the resulting set piece however the O’s were punished for failing to organise themselves as Watford’s Folivi was left in space to head a late winner beyond Sargeant.
The O’s now go into their final game of the current schedule at home to Southend next weekend needing a win to have the best hope of securing a top-half finish.
ORIENT: Sam Sargeant, Myles Judd, Sam Ling (C), Jack Humphrey, Kane Adams (Michael Clark 75), Freddy Moncur, Nick Brown (Montel Agyemang 60), Christian Owusu (Josh Koroma 69), Sam Alderson, Shola Oladipo, Victor Adeboyejo
SUBS: Charley Barker, Aron Pollock
GOALS: Brown (10)
WATFORD: Arie Ammann, Dennon Lewis, Mahlando Martin, Connor Stevens, Alfie Young (C), Harry Kyprianou, Joseph Otudeko, Max Makaka, Michael Folivi, Il Myeong Choi (Ogo Obi 53), Carl Stewart
SUBS: Nathan Gartside, Charles Rowan, Jacob Cook, Brandon Mason
GOALS: Folivi (70 & 84)