Leyton Orient U18s were crowned league champions before the Christmas break after picking up a 2-1 win against Northampton Town on Saturday.
The young O’s bounced back in style after their 3-1 FA Youth Cup Third Round defeat to Leicester City, as a goal in each half from Ruel Sotiriou and under-16 Amin Benyoucef secured the title after an impressive run which has seem them remain unbeaten throughout the league campaign.
Richard Thomas fielded a reshuffled starting XI after the loss at the King Power Stadium, with under-16s Ernold Haxhiu and Amin Benyoucef starting in place of Sam Dalby and Steven Alzate who travelled with the first team, while Ruel Sotiriou replaced Tristan Abrahams.
The first half proved to be a tight affair between the sides, but with three minutes remaining goalkeeper Sam Roach was called into action as Shama Bako forced a good save and the resulting corner was met by an overhead kick from Lewis Irwin but it went high over the bar.
The O’s respond brilliantly to the chance however and made the breakthrough just before the half-time whistle. Thomas’ side kept possession in and around the Northampton box and after a number of passes Rian McLean set up Ruel Sotiriou, who looped the shot over the goalkeeper and into the top corner.
Orient started the second period in the same fashion as they ended the first, doubling their lead through a well-worked team goal.
Josh Koroma was played down the line by Sotiriou and his pace got him away from the defender before his squared ball across the box found Amin Benyoucef in open space who was there for the tap in.
With half an hour remaining hte home side did manage to pull a goal back, when the Cobblers launched a counter attack from an O’s corner. Orient were seemingly in control of the situation but a poor back pass enabled James Hammond to knock it past Roach and into the net.
The O’s almost made it 3-1 late on as a great ball over the top from Ernold Haxhiu found Sotiriou but his shot was parried by the goalkeeper and then cleared off the line.
Orient had done enough though to secure the win as they showed character to bounce back from their only defeat this season, and can enjoy the two-week festive break in fixtures having secured the league title.
The O’s will return to action on January 7 for their remaining five games in the league, before embarking on the Merit League One campaign.
ORIENT: Sam Roach, Andrew Camilo-Tayaca (Jaedon Phillips 84), Toby Stevenson, Rian McLean, Dan Happe, Teddy Perkins, Josh Koroma (c), Ernold Haxhiu, Ruel Sotiriou, Amin Benyoucef (Charles Clayden 87), Pat Adamson
SUBS: Arthur Janata, Mason Hall, Aaron Rowe
GOALS: Sotiriou, Benyoucef