Laurent Davies-Wilson’s brace inside two first half minutes ended Leyton Orient U18s unbeaten run as they lost 2-1 at home to Bristol Rovers.
Davies-Wilson scored with identical finishes in both the 31st and 33rd minutes as the visitors raced into a two-goal lead. Freddy Moncur pulled one back from the penalty spot just before half time but the O’s were unable to break down an organised Rovers team to suffer their first defeat since January.
Academy Director Andy Edwards made two changes to the side that won 2-1 at Cheltenham the previous weekend as Montel Agyemang missed out with an ankle injury and Victor Adeboyejo continued his loan spell at Royston Town. In their absence captain Sam Ling lined up as part of a diamond midfield, in which Freddy Moncur occupied the holding role, while Christian Owusu came in to partner Shola Oladipo in attack.
Both teams came into the tie boasting unbeaten starts to the Merit League 2 Division and it was the O’s who started the stronger in windy conditions.
The hosts created the first chance of the match in the fifth minute when full-back Myles Judd roamed down the right before pulling the ball back for Shola Oladipo who saw his effort deflected over the bar.
Moments later defender Michael Clark nearly registered his first goal of the season with a sweetly-struck volley from a corner but Bristol Rovers goalkeeper Cameron Clarke got down to push the ball round the post.
Rovers responded with an attack of their own soon after only to be denied by Orient goalkeeper Ben Card who produced a stunning double save. The O’s stopper first kept out Ryan Broom’s 20-yard effort before throwing himself bravely at Blake Davies’ follow-up attempt.
As the ‘keepers continued to keep the tie goalless Orient immediately broke down the other end of the pitch only to be denied by another great save. Having been picked out by Judd’s drilled ball across the box, Owusu looked certain to score but Clarke somehow managed to tip the ball over the bar.
With both teams searching for that elusive first goal it was Rovers who were denied next. Davies-Wilson wormed his way down the left before picking out his strike partner Davies at the back post, only for Card to combine with defender Jack Humphrey in blocking the shot behind for a corner.
Oladipo then fired a shot wide after controlling Scott Kashket’s knock down outside the box before Orient were punished for not taking any of their early opportunities.
After the O’s failed to keep hold of possession, Rovers took full advantage as Davies-Wilson collected the ball inside the box before rolling the ball beyond Card and into the far corner to break the deadlock.
Two minutes later Orient were left stunned as they fell even further behind with a sense of déjà vu as Davies-Wilson doubled the visitors lead with an identical finish after receiving Tom Fry’s pass.
Reeling from the quick-fire double Orient were handed a lifeline on the 43rd minute when awarded a penalty after Louis Ezewele bundled over Kashket as he entered the box.
Freddy Moncur took the resulting spot-kick and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to half the deficit and give Orient hope going into the break.
Following the restart Orient struggled to find a way through a resolute Rovers side and Ling squandered a rare opening with just under an hour played when he headed Kane Adams’ cross over the bar.
Looking to find a way back into the tie, Edwards introduced U16s pair Charley Barker and Josh Koroma with just over 20 minutes remaining but the hosts continued to struggle to create any chances.
With time running out Edwards then threw on defender Aron Pollock to play in attack but it was to be to no avail as Rovers nearly added a third through Bradley Confrey late on before holding on for the three-points.
The defeat ends a run of four consecutive wins for Orient and also sees Bristol Rovers leapfrog the O’s at the top of Merit League 2.
ORIENT: Ben Card, Myles Judd, Michael Clark, Jack Humphrey, Kane Adams, Freddy Moncur, Sam Ling (C), Sam Alderson (Charley Barker 68), Scott Kashket, Christian Owusu (Josh Koroma 68), Shola Oladipo (Aron Pollock 83)
SUBS: Sam Sargeant
GOALS: Moncur (43 pen)
BRISTOL ROVERS: Cameron Clarke, Tyler Lyttle, Harrison Trueman, Louis Ezewele (C), Alfie Kilgour, Mitchell Palmer, Elliott Green, Ryan Broom, Blake Davies (Bradley Confrey 81), Laurent Davies-Wilson, Tom Fry
SUBS: Kieran Preston
GOALS: Davies-Wilson (31 & 33)
BOOKINGS: Broom (55)