Leyton Orient U18s made it four wins from four as Sam Dalby’s double helped them to a 2-1 victory at Southend United.
Manager Richard Thomas was forced to make a late chance prior to kick off as Myles Judd picked up an injury in the warm up and was replaced by Andrew Tayaca.
With 15 minutes gone Southend had a clear chance to put themselves in front. A home midfielder was played through after finding space between the O’s centre backs but he put the ball wide when the pass to a team-mate was also on.
Orient then went agonisingly close to opening the scoring. Tristan Abrahams played the ball down the right and the loose ball in the box fell to Toby Stevenson whose shot was blocked, with Pat Adamson also having his shot blocked. With too many bodies in the box the O’s were unable to find the net.
A minute later however, Thomas’ side got the breakthrough. A quick free kick from captain Charley Barker into Steven Alzate who flicked the ball to Dalby and he made it 1-0 to the O’s. This was Dalby’s first goal of the season having already tallied up assists in the previous three games.
The Blues reacted straight away and levelled the score just minutes after conceding. Alex Clarke, who had looked dangerous from kick off, crossed the ball and Sewa Marah converted with a tap in – the first goal the O’s have conceded this season.
Orient had chances to go ahead before the break, with Abrahams forcing the keeper knock the ball onto the bar.
After the break it was Orient dominating the possession and having further chances to go ahead. Abrahams went extremely close again, this time from five yards out but the shot went wide. A bad two-footed challenge on Barker, who was already nursing an injured back went unnoticed and unpunished by the referee, as the pace and intensity of the game increased.
Abrahams hit the bar again after good link up play with attacking partner Dalby and the first-year scholar certainly had the best chances of the game.
With 20 minutes remaining the young O’s hard work in attack finally paid off to make it 2-1 as Dalby was able to double his tally after the pass from Barker.
As well as looking fluid in attack, Orient’s central defensive pair of Dan Happe and Rian McLean, thwarted a number of potential Southend attacks, communicating brilliantly with each other.
The O’s had enough chances to increase their led but lacked the finishing touch in front of goal on the day. Alzate had a shot blocked in the box, McLean saw his header go just over the bar and Abrahams couldn’t beat the keeper from close range.
Southend provided the toughest opposition so far this this season, with the boys being challenged for pace and physicality. The O’s were patient in attack however and knew a second goal would come eventually after many chances.
ORIENT: Arthur Janata, Andrew Tayaca, Toby Stevenson, Henry Ochieng, Dan Happe, Rian McLean, Steven Alzate, Charley Barker, Tristan Abrahams, Sam Dalby, Pat Adamson
SUBS: Teddy Perkins, Ruel Sotiriou, Bradley McClenghan, Hector Kyprianou
SCORERS: Dalby (2)