Orient U18s boss Richard Thomas is challenging the young O’s to bounce back from their 3-1 FA Youth Cup defeat in style by securing the league title.
Tristan Abrahams’ late penalty proved to be little consolation for the O’s at the King Power Stadium as they bowed out of the Cup and fell to their first defeat of the season, but a win on Saturday against Northampton Town will secure the Youth Alliance South East Division title.
“Even though this is a disappointing result it could still be a top week,” he told leytonorient.com.
“It is their first chance to show a reaction, and a test they need from a development point of view. They have to find a way of bouncing back after a defeat because that is the game.
“If they are going to have long careers in the game they will need to bounce back from defeats and react to that.
“We will find out what characters we have got around the place on Saturday.”
Thomas was disappointed with his side’s showing on the night, but admitted it was always going to be tough against a Leicester side who included three youth internationals.
“Unfortunately we weren’t very pleased with our own performance,” he added. “I think a number of the lads froze on the night and didn’t do themselves justice.
“They have some very good players in there and they brought in three of their youth internationals so that shows they had respect for us.
“They do things quicker because every week they are playing against Europe’s best. They are used to playing at a quicker tempo and that proved to be the main problem on the night.
“It is disappointing because the boys had high hopes, but we came up against top opposition and full credit to them so we wish them the best of luck in the next round.”
The O’s thought they had the lead on the night when Josh Koroma’s effort was cleared off the line, but Thomas was disappointed they failed to test the Foxes goalkeeper too much on the night.
“The lads are convinced it was a goal but irrespective of that they had four or five other good chances and we never really played as well as we can at any point, although we had a 15-20 minute spell.
“They got the goal against the run of play and that flattened our lads. It was 1-0 at half time and I wasn’t sure it was justified as we had had two or three good chances and the goalmouth scramble and created good opportunities but never tested the goalkeeper all night.
“That is disappointing as we got ourselves in some really good areas through some good work, effort and persistence.”
Thomas praised the O’s fans who made the journey to the King Power Stadium, adding: “The turnout from the Orient fans was unbelievable. It felt like a home game and was brilliant yet again. They kept making a noise and convincing the boys to keep going.
“It was disappointing we couldn’t show them what we are capable of. The biggest disappointment was that they didn’t play anywhere near as well as we can and yet we still competed for large parts of the game.
“Hopefully though they saw glimpses of what the boys can do and what we should see from them in years to come hopefully in and around the first team.”