The young O’s left it late as they sealed their progress into the semi-final of the Youth Alliance Southern Cup, with goals coming from Steven Alzate and Andrew Tayaca in the last eight minutes to seal a 2-0 win at Cambridge United.
There were a few changes to the starting line-up as Sam Dalby and Josh Koroma travelled with the first team to Hartlepool United, and top goal scorer Tristan Abrahams was missing due to injury.
Goalkeeper Sam Roach was back in the side after his loan spell at Essex Senior League side Barkingside, and the O’s set up in 3-5-2 formation with Pat Adamson partnering Ruel Sotiriou up front.
The returning Roach was kept busy in the first half making a number of saves to deny Cambridge the opening goal. The closest chance came after a short corner with Roach pulling off a fine reaction save to deny Matthew Foy’s effort from close range.
Roach was called upon once again in the opening stages of the second half. Prince Mutswunwua went close to scoring after a scramble in the box but Roach again got down well to hold the shot and keep the scoreline at 0-0.
Richard Thomas’ side changed to a 4-4-2 at the start of the second half and the new shape seemed to settle the players into their regular playing style.
With eight minutes remaining this game seemed to be heading for penalties but a breakaway goal from Alzate put the O’s in front. The ball from Teddy Perkins found Alzate in the opposition half, before he beat the defender and used his pace to create a one-on-one with the goalkeeper and his shot went in off the post.
Tayaca made an impact having coming on with half an hour left to play and his performance was summed up by a goal in the final minutes of added time, giving the the O’s a 2-0 led and Cambridge no chance of a comeback.
Under-16 Aaron Rowe played Alzate into the box, who then cut the ball back to Tayaca who had plenty of space and he slotted the ball calmly past the goalkeeper.
The O’s deserved the win after a much-improved second half showing, but rode their luck as Cambridge failed to take advantage of their chances, with Roach coming to the rescue on a number of occasions
Next up for the undefeated O’s is a home league game against Luton Town on Saturday, with a 10.30am kick-off.
ORIENT: Sam Roach, Myles Judd, Toby Stevenson, Teddy Perkins, Dan Happe, Rian McLean, Henry Ochieng, Elliot Usher (Andrew Tayaca 63), Ruel Sotiriou (Aaron Rowe 89), Pat Adamson, Steven Alzate.
SUBS: Arthur Janata, Ernold Haxhiu, Charles Clayden.
SCORERS: Alzate, Tayaca.