Leyton Orient U18’s fought for a scrappy 2-0 win away at Southend to maintain their undefeated start to the Merit League 1 season and also maintaining their 100 per cent clean sheet record in the league.
The two previous games between the O’s and Shrimpers had produced eight goals, and with Orient in fine scoring form it looked inevitable that another high scoring game would take place. But it was Southend who took the opening momentum, dominating the opening 10 minutes as Orient couldn’t quite keep hold of the ball.
When they did find a way to push forward, the Sam Dalby and Josh Koroma front pairing connected well allowing Koroma to strike a half volley just wide. Koroma had another chance from a corner, but his header didn’t have enough power.
Southend nearly took the lead though on the 38th minute as Norman Wabo delightfully tried to dip a half volley over keeper Sam Roach but it rattled the crossbar.
Orient had two more chances before the half was out, with Sam Dalby breaking into the box before laying across to Koroma, but the shot was well blocked and then Dan Happe hit the bar with a looping header.
The second half started much like the first had played with both teams struggling to get a foothold in the game, with numerous half chances but nothing to really trouble the keepers.
That all changed though on the hour mark as Koroma took the ball past three players with confidence and teed up Sam Alderson on the edge of the 18 yard box who unleashed a thunderous low driven shot into the bottom left hand corner.
Orient grew in confidence with the opening goal and started to establish their dominance in midfield as they pressed well, forcing Southend to consistently put balls over the top which Happe and Michael Clark dealt with.
The O’s were able to put the game beyond doubt with 15 minutes to go, as Charley Barker spotted the run of Dalby behind the defenders. He produced a superb 30 yard pass to perfectly land at the feet of Dalby who with composure slotted the ball under the keeper to double the lead.
Academy Coach Danny Webb admitted that at times it wasn’t pretty, but the result comes first.
“I think that U18s football isn’t always pretty because both teams always want to get the win but they don’t want to lose firstly.
“But because we have guys training with the first team they have this winning mentality that we have been trying to install into them and sometimes it can come down to who makes the least amounts of mistakes.
“They stuck with the plan and they came away with two goals and we now have the sixth clean sheet in a row. We’ve got four more tough games, and we’re going to use the Leicester analogy that everyone is waiting for us to slip up and they are going to try and break our clean sheet record, but we’re going to keep pushing and giving it our all.”
ORIENT: Sam Roach, Sam Telling, Michael Clark, Dan Happe, Rian McLean, Charley Barker, Henry Ochieng, Sam Alderson, Tristan Abrahams, Josh Koroma, Sam Dalby.
SUBS: Pat Adamson, Teddy Perkins.
GOALS: Sam Alderson, Sam Dalby.