Leyton Orient U18’s made it back-to-back Merit League titles after picking up a 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon at the weekend to seal top spot in Merit League 1 thanks to goals from captain Michael Clark and Sam Dalby.
Following on from their Merit League 2 title last season, this year’s crop of youngsters have put in some impressive performances throughout and a nine-game unbeaten run has helped them to the second title in succession.
The O’s needed a win to seal top spot, but they had to do it the hard way as they came from 1-0 down to seal the title.
Chances were few and far between early on, with Charley Barker’s off target effort the only O’s shot in the opening 15 minutes.
It was Wimbledon who were to break the deadlock though as Dan Ano’s whipped free-kick into the box from an acute angle caused confusion at the back as it found its way into the back of the net to give the Dons the advantage.
Orient responded well, and they were apply to grab their equaliser from a set piece – something they have mastered all season. Sam Alderson provided the delivery once again and after a great flick on, central defender and skipper Clark produced a stunning half volley past the Wimbledon ‘keeper.
The game ebbed and flowed, but it was Orient who managed to sneak their way into the lead and it was once again another deadly set piece from Alderson to set up what proved to be the winner, as his corner in found the head of Dalby who provided the finish as the O’s went into the half-time interval in front.
Chances were few and far between in the second period, and the best opportunity fell to Aron Pollock, who made his return following a facial injury picked up in a Development League game against Cambridge United.
Pollock was introduced off the bench and in a bid to hold the ball up in attack, and as the ball fell to him following a poor pass from the Dons goalkeeper, he was unable to direct to get his audacious lobbed effort on target.
However, the O’s had done enough to pick up the victory and secure the title, with one game to spare as they celebrate another successful season.
On the victory, coach Danny Webb said: “Roach held his hands up that he made a mistake for their goal today, but Sam Alderson again has put the ball on a plate for our two goals, Clarky getting his third goal on the trot and secondly for Sam Dalby whose header was fantastic.
“When you’ve got someone of that quality on a delivery no matter whether you’re in the first team, under 21 or youth level you’ve got a chance to win games.”
ORIENT: Sam Roach, Rian McLean, Dan Happe, Michael Clark, Sam Telling, Charley Barker, Henry Ochieng, Sam Alderson, Steven Alzate, Sam Dalby (Ruel Sotiriou 90), Tristan Abrahams (Aron Pollock 70).
SUBS: Arthur Janata Teddy Perkins
GOALS: Michael Clark, Sam Dalby