A goal in each half saw a very youthful Orient under-18s go down to a 2-1 Merit League One defeat at Exeter City on Saturday.
Boss Peter Gill took just three under-18s with the rest comprising of under-16s and two under-15s on the trip to Devon.
The start could not get much better for Gill’s side as they took the lead with just 13 minutes on the clock.
After a strong opening period, Pat Adamson received the ball on the left and played a lovely diagonal ball through to trialist Andre Silva who was able to slot home at the near post.
It was an end-to-end game and the visitors enjoyed a couple more chances without being able to convert, and with 20 minutes gone, the Grecians levelled.
An Orient attack broke down and the hosts played a ball over the top which wasn’t dealt with and the striker slotted the ball past Arthur Janata to ensure parity.
Following on from the equaliser, the hosts began to dominate possession but didn’t give Janata too many problems in the O’s goal, before Gill’s side went closer still when Silva struck the post with half an hour gone.
The scores remained level at the break, but five minutes into the second half saw the hosts move in front.
From that moment forward Exeter controlled the game as the youthful O’s struggled with the fitness and pace of the game.
Janata kept Orient in the game going into the dying stages with several good saves to keep the deficit at one.
And the goalkeeper almost became the hero in time added on when he went forward for an Adamson free-kick.
Janata met the ball superbly with his head and with his opposite number beaten, the effort grazed the bar and the O’s left to contemplate what may have been.
On the performance, O’s boss Peter Gill said: “I was proud of the performance with so many young players featuring and I am especially delighted with under-15 Brendan Shabani playing at left back. He did not look out of place considering he has had a lengthy spell out through injury. To play, and start his first youth team game since the lay-off was really impressive.
“The task for the whole league campaign is to integrate the under-16s with the first-year scholars ready for next season’s Youth Alliance League, while giving the second-year scholars game time when required.
“In terms of that it has been a brilliant league so far and we have more than held our own despite results not always going our way, but that is only to be expected with the squads we have fielded. They are developing with every game and they are learning and making massive strides ready for next season.
“The youngsters in the first team are an inspiration for them and to see Sam Dalby, a first year scholar playing such an important part, shows they are not too far away from it.”
ORIENT: Arthur Janata, Andrew Camilo-Tayaca, Brendan Shabani (Bradley McCleneghan 50), Hector Kyprianou, Jaedon Phillips, Luca Carter-Henry, Andre Silva, Ernold Haxhiu, Ruel Sotiriou, Amin Benyoucef (Aaron Rowe 50), Pat Adamson (c)