Sam Ling scored twice as Leyton Orient U18s cruised to a 3-0 victory at Gillingham.
The O’s got off to an electric start and took the lead after only 90 seconds through Sam Ling. The O’s skipper then added a second soon after before being denied the match ball when his first half penalty was saved.
Striker Noel Mbo wrapped up the win in impressive fashion with a perfectly placed shot into the top corner early into the second half as Orient started the new division with a win.
With Freddy Moncur missing through illness Sam Ling moved out of defence to partner Montel Agyemang in the heart of midfield while Noel Mbo made his first appearance for the O’s as he replaced the injured Victor Adeboyejo in attack.
The previous two encounters between the teams earlier on this season had seen each claim narrow victories, but Andy Edwards’ side took an early lead when Sam Ling fired them ahead inside two minutes. Following a neat passing move Ling collected a pass from Sam Alderson to enter the box and curl a left footed effort into the far corner.
Orient should have been two to the good minutes later when Noel Mbo intercepted a loose Gillingham pass on the halfway line and drove into the hosts box but the striker could only place his effort wide of the post.
Gillingham could well have levelled the scores soon after when Harry Stannard got in between Myles Judd and Michael Clark to race through one-on-one but despite directing his shot beyond O’s stopper Sam Sargeant, the attempt also went wide of the post.
Ling was looking lively in midfield as he pushed forward to link up with the Orient attacks and with 13 minutes played the skipper doubled the O’s lead. Having made a run beyond Shola Oladipo down the left, Oladipo flicked the ball into the path of Ling who then fizzed a low shot beyond Gills ‘keeper Henry Newcombe.
The shot looked to take a touch off Mbo on its way in but with the strike on target Ling was quick to claim his second of the match.
Sargeant was then called into action on the 23rd minute when Ryan Crandley collected a lofted diagonal pass to enter the box but the Orient ‘keeper came off his line well to deny the midfielder.
That was to be the final time Sargeant was to be called into action during the first half however and ten minutes later Orient were awarded a penalty when Oladipo was clipped inside the box.
With already two goals to his name there was only going to be one person taking the spot-kick as Ling placed the ball on the penalty spot. There was to be no first half hat-trick however as Ling saw his penalty kept out as Newcombe guessed correctly and dived to his right.
At halftime the O’s were forced into making a change as Josh Koroma replaced the injured Aron Pollock. The move required a slight reshuffle as Ling reverted back to centre back and Alderson moved into centre midfield with Koroma going out to the right wing.
Following the restart Orient started off scrappily but despite the poor start Sargeant was untroubled in the O’s goal, only facing one effort from the edge of the box from Charlie Tagg which was saved comfortably.
Orient soon clicked back into fashion however as Mbo extended the visitors lead with a sublime strike on the 55th minute having raced onto Alderson’s clipped pass. Once in behind the defence Mbo brought the ball down well and avoided the slide of Cameron Dickson before accurately curling an effort from outside the box that gave Newcombe no chance and dropped just underneath the crossbar.
Mbo’s strike killed off any possibility of a Gillingham comeback and the O’s maintained their concentration to enter the closing stages leading comfortably.
With only minutes remaining Sargeant then ensured his second clean sheet in as many matches when he dived at full stretch to prevent Stannard’s effort from curling into the top corner.
GILLINGHAM: Henry Newcombe, Dan Adams, Joe Nougbele, Charlie Tagg, Cameron Dickson (Jack Holland), Mitchell Dickenson (C), Harry Stannard, Ryan Crandley, Ricardo Thompson, Greg Cundle, Connor Hendricks (Remy Giwa 45)
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Haigh, Ben Chapman, Finn O’Mara
ORIENT: Sam Sargeant, Myles Judd (Kane Adams 77), Michael Clark, Aron Pollock (Josh Koroma 45), Jack Humphrey, Sam Alderson, Sam Ling (C), Montel Agyemang, Shola Oladipo, Christian Owusu, Noel Mbo (Tristan Abrahams 74)
SUBS NOT USED: Sam Roach, Charley Barker
GOALS: Ling (2 & 13), Mbo (55)