Leyton Orient’s U16s will be hoping to make it back-to-back titles as they look to get the better of Notts County in the Category Three National Final on Sunday (2pm kick-off) at Derby.
Last season the O’s emerged victorious with a 4-1 victory against Bury in the final last season, and will be hoping for a repeat this term, having booked their place in the final in Derby thanks to a 3-2 extra-time win over Exeter City last weekend.
Ruel Sotiriou’s extra-time strike saw Omer Riza’s side come from 2-0 down at half time to seal the success, and the new Youth Development Phase Lead Coach believes that type of showing will only benefit the youngsters on Sunday.
“The Club did a great job in allowing us to go up the night before for the Exeter game and prepare properly,” said Riza.
“Exeter are a very good team and I wasn’t surprised by that because they are in semi-finals. They were well organised and the boys had not had to deal with cagey situations before all season.
“They have been on top a lot and not really had to deal with going behind too many times or having to break teams down. It was cagey and by half time we were 2-0 down and the boys were shocked at the end of the game – they didn’t realise how good Exeter were.
“Hopefully they have learnt their lessons from that and they showed great character to come back in the second half and win with five minutes left to go in extra time with a great volley from Ruel.
And on Sunday’s final, which will take place at Derby County’s U21s training ground of Moor Park, Riza added: “There is high hopes, definitely after the semi-final and they have learnt a lot. It is going to be a similar cagey affair.
“They have to learn that they can’t just go out and pummel teams 3 and 4-0. Sometimes it happens and that’s great, but you have to deal with adversity and be patient, seeing how the game develops by not giving goals away. They have learnt a lot and of course we are looking to win it.”
Such has been their success this season, A number of players from the U16s have stepped up to represent Academy Director Andy Edwards’ U18s throughout the campaign, and Riza believes that can only bode well for the future.
“This year we have had Michael Obafemi, Ruel Sotiriou, Teddy Perkins, Arthur Janata, Sam Dalby, Andrew Tiyaca into the U18s and Andy, Danny Webb and Richard Thomas have been good in moving the boys up when they feel they are ready to play. It is all about progression and we like to do that throughout the Academy,” he added.
“If the boys are ready they will have that chance. When they have had the opportunity they have all done well and that is nice to see.”
If any O’s fans wish to watch the final (kick-off 2pm) the full address of the venue can be seen below:
Moor Farm Training Ground,
Everyone at Leyton Orient FC would like to congratulate the team on their success so far this season and wish them all the best for Sunday.