On a bright summer evening in south London, Matt Harrold and Brian Saah took charge at the Champion Hill Stadium.
It was a team made up entirely of Orient youth products, bar trialists Josh Clarke and Dylan Duncan, and first teamers Anthony Papadopoulos, Matt Young, Sam Sargeant and Jayden Sweeney – who took the armband.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the Dulwich side, with Charlie Grainger and James Dayton both in The Hamlet’s starting eleven.
Josh Clarke had Orient’s first chance on goal, after he saw his chipped shot drift safely into the hands of Grainger. The former O was forced into another save shortly after, this time denying Papadopoulos who took aim from distance.
Dulwich had the first dangerous set piece opportunity of the evening in the 25th minute, after a loose ball out from Sargeant required a smart foul from Sweeney to deny the hosts a sight of goal, but The Hamlet saw their resulting free-kick collected at the second time of asking by the O’s goalkeeper.
Orient were forced into making the first change of the evening, after Shimron Eaton sustained what looked like a nasty a head injury after an aerial duel, and Zech Obiero replaced him, with Papadopoulos moving to centre-back.
Dulwich Hamlet very nearly took the lead through Chike Kandi, but Sargeant got down well at his near post to collect his flicked back heel shot. It didn’t take Orient long to respond however, when Matt Young’s rasping shot was parried to the feet of Obiero, the young midfielder’s effort went over the bar after being crowded out in the area.
HALF-TIME: Dulwich Hamlet 0-0 Leyton Orient XI
The Hamlet very nearly took the lead immediately after the restart when Deon Moore met an in-swinging corner, but Sargeant did well to claw the ball away from danger. Michael Timlin was next to test the Orient keeper, but his strike from distance was pushed behind.
Orient managed their first chance of the second-half, thanks to an excellent through ball from Young, putting Mpongo through on goal, but his dinked effort was cleared off the line as it bounced goal wards. Orient continued the pressure as Jephte Tanga very nearly broke the deadlock straight after, when he dribbled past three men down the right flank with ease, but his curled effort rattled off of the post.
Despite pressure from the O’s, it was the home side who took the lead, after Dulwich substitute AJ Harris-Sealy’s free kick sailed through a sea of bodies to open the scoring. The O’s hit the upright again with a set-piece of their own shortly after, as Young could only bend his effort against the outside of the post, with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot.
Zech Obiero equalised for Orient with an absolute peach of a strike from 30-yards that sailed straight into the top right corner leading to applause, even from the home supporters.
The home side applied the pressure in the final stages, and were awarded a penalty right at the death after Clements tripped his man. Sargeant was the hero though, first diving to his right to stop Splatt’s penalty, before darting to his feet to block the rebound, ultimately earning a hard-fought draw for the young Orient XI.
Dulwich: Grainger (GK), Ming (Splatt 70’), Blackman, Higgs (McGregor 45’), Holland (C), Sterling (Trialist B 84’), Moore (Mills 67’), Timlin (Barnum-Bobb 70’), Kandi (Meite 73’), Dayton (Trialist A 67’), Reid (Harris-Sealy 60’)
Bench: Molineux (GK)
Goals: AJ Harris-Sealy 62’
Orient XI: Sargeant, Kwatchey (Pegrum 88’), Eaton (Obiero 36’), Sodje, Sweeney (C), Young (Clements 73’), Papadopoulos, Duncan (Staerck 62’), Tanga, Mpongo, Clarke
Goals: Obiero 80’
Booked: Sweeney 53’