Leyton Orient U18’s were left frustrated and wondering what could have been as a boggy pitch and one piece of luck helped Luton escape with a win on Saturday.
The fourth meeting of the season between the two teams was always going to be a close encounter, with Luton only just scraping past Orient in the FA Youth Cup last time out.
With Aron Pollock called up to the first team and both Myles Judd and Michael Clarke out injured, the defence consisted of Sam Alderson, Dan Happe, Rian McLean and Sam Telling, while Pat Adamson started at the front of a midfield diamond, behind Josh Koroma and Tristan Abrahams.
The Hatters, crowded the middle of the pitch and shut out Orient in the opening 10 minutes until Alderson was given the chance of whipping in a couple of set pieces.
On both set pieces he found the head of Koroma, but he was unable to direct either contested header towards goal. Koroma was able to give himself another chance five minutes later, but wasn’t able to get any power behind a toe poke from six yards. Adamson had the last good Orient chance of the half but his low drive was blocked.
Right before the half though a horrid sucker punch ruined the momentum. A Luton corner was fired into the box and rebounded off a Luton player five yards out and pinged into the net.
Luton took the game to Orient as the second period started with Freddie Hinds lashing a volley over, before forcing O’s goalkeeper Sam Sargeant into a low save. Steven Alzate was unlucky to not equalise as his effort was saved at the near post after a fantastic run, with Abrahams’ strike well saved moments later.
The reinforcements came with 15 minutes to go as Sam Dalby, Ruel Sotiriou and Teddy Perkins were all brought on to replace Telling, McLean and Adamson, but the O’s struggled to make another real chance and finished the game disappointed with the defeat.
Academy Director Andy Edwards was left frustrated at not picking up anything for their efforts.
“Once again we were the better side, but we’ve said that a lot recently,” Edwards said. “But we need to be more clinical, as they were defensively sound so you have to take your chances. It was a game that came down to really fine margins and one mistake has cost us.”
ORIENT: Sam Sargeant, Sam Alderson, Rian McLean (Teddy Perkins 75), Dan Happe, Sam Telling (Ruel Sotiriou 75), Charley Barker, Henry Ochieng, Steven Alzate, Pat Adamson (Sam Dalby 75), Josh Koroma, Tristan Abrahams.