O’s under-18s manager Richard Thomas hailed last night’s performance as unbelieveable as they emerged 6-0 victors over local rivals Southend United in the FA Youth Cup First Round.
Two goals apiece for strike duo Tristan Abrahams and Sam Dalby, along with one from both Josh Koroma and Ruel Sotiriou saw them ease into the second round at Roots Hall last night, and Thomas was understandably delighted with his side’s showing in the victory.
“It was an unbelievable performance. I am really pleased for all of the boys because they have been threatening a result like that for a few weeks,” he told leytonorient.com.
“We were 3-0 up against Luton at the weekend and managed to throw that away before regrouping, but they have learnt from that and are already taking strides forward. For them to show discipline tonight and not let the same scenario develop was unbelievable and the performances throughout the team were very good.
“I cannot pick out any individuals as they were all very good and we haven’t had to carry a single player. The goals were excellent and the football was very good. The discipline and the habits they have developed have put us in that position.”
Many of the squad had not played in such an environment and under the pressure the Youth Cup brings, but with that in mind, Thomas was pleased with how they dealt with the whole occasion in what could have been a difficult test.
“Sam Dalby and Toby Stevenson are first years and haven’t spent much time in stadiums or under lights, or with us in general,” he added.
“For someone like Toby to come in from outside the club and embed himself the way he has is unbelievable and Sam has only been with the club for a short period of time and is already looking very good.
“The second years have been excellent as well, but it is new experience for most of them – playing in front of a crowd and in a pressure environment. They deserve this win for everything they do Monday-Friday since July 1, but at the same time it is the first round and we are not going to get away from that fact, and we want to go further.
“They have earned themselves one more round, and it will just be about trying to do that each round. We are staying sensible and not going over the top, but it was very impressive.”
Thomas praised the level of support the squad received from a strong O’s following on the night, remarking: “It was great to see so many staff and fans come to the game and cheers us along. The support was fantastic and it almost felt like a home game with the number of fans who attended. I know all the boys appreciated it, especially being clapped off at the end.”
Dalby and Abrahams continued their fine goalsoring runs, moving on to 11 and 15 goals respectively for the season. While they take up much of the limelight, the O’s boss was eager to praise the team’s work ethic which enables the strike duo to thrive.
“It bodes well for Sam and Tristan but it is a reflection of the whole group,” he added.
“They are the end product of the whole group. It is brilliant for them to continue scoring individually, but there are goals now coming from across the pitch. I wouldn’t single them out as much as I am pleased for them, they need everyone else and both boys recognise that.”
The win now stretches their unbeaten run to 14 games, and the young O’s will hope to extend that when they make the trip to Cambridge United on Saturday in the Youth Alliance South East Dvision.