Ruthless Orient make it through to the third round
A ruthless second half showing from Andy Edwards’ Under 18’s side booked them a place in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Premier League Stoke City after a 4-1 win at Swindon Town.
The O’s had impressed in a first half stalemate but found an extra lease of life in a second half blitz that saw them score three in five minutes as the Robins were put to the sword.
The ever-impressive Scott Kashket set the O’s on their way with a fine curling finish before Sinclaire Sandy, Alex Finney and Freddy Moncur rattled in three in five minutes to kill the game with 10 minutes to go.
The home side did grab a consolation from the penalty spot through skipper Matthew Jones which would have been the only disappointment for the O’s who deserved a clean sheet at the County Ground.
Orient boss Andy Edwards named the same side that ran out 3-0 winners at AFC Totton in the first round of the competition on a cold night at the County Ground with both sides intent on booking a trip to Premier League Stoke City in the third round.
It was a fast and frenetic opening as both sides seemed full of adrenaline and came flying out of the blocks with several early turnovers of possession as neither side managed to get a firm footing in the opening exchanges.
Orient began to soon settle though and what the front pairing of Scott Kashket and Sinclaire Sandy lacked in size, they made up for in energy as they looked to run the channels and harass the Robins’ back four.
The O’s established control and had the first chance with 13 minutes gone. Fine work by Andys Nikoloau saw the defender intercept a pass before marauding forward and finding Kashket in the box who cut back onto his right foot to go one-on-one with Aaron Moody but the Robins keeper dived low to deny him.
The chance galvanised the O’s who came close a minute later when the lively Sandy wriggled down the right and flashed a ball across the face of goal that was inches away from the waiting toe of Kashket.
The Robins eventually settled and eight minutes later had their first chance when Joe English knocked down for Will Randall on the edge of the box but the forward could only flash his drive over the bar.
It was always unlikely that the tempo of the early exchanges would be sustained and sure enough as the half ticked on it eased into a more rhythmic flow.
The home side would go closest just after the 25 minutes mark when Matthew Jones’s corner fell into the path of Joe English who got a shot away that O’s midfielder Josh Uzun manager to scramble off of the line.
It had been a less physical affair than the previous round at Totton, though Kashket was the victim of a reckless challenge by Curtis Da Costa with 10 minutes of the first half remaining that saw the latter fortunate to escape a booking.
Orient cranked up the pressure with a succession of corners, one of which almost went directly in from Freddy Moncur as Josh Uzun started to exert more of an influence on the game with his movement between the lines whilst Sam Ling provided a constant threat with his overlapping runs down the right.
But it was in first half stoppage time when the O’s had the best chance of the half. Kashket scooped one up for Uzun who beat the offside trap and rounded the keeper before standing the ball up to Montel Agyemang at the back-post but the midfielder failed to get enough on a free header that rebounded down into the turf as the teams went in locked at 0-0.
Orient did not have to wait long for their first chance after the restart when Moncur curled a free-kick in right under the bar that was almost headed in by a Swindon defender.
The home sided responded with a chance of their own from a set play when another Jones corner feel to Matthews who looked certain to score until a block from Nikolaou.
There was more purpose to the home side’s play in the second half and Jones continued to cause problems with his dangerous deliveries before Randall saw a shot well saved by Grainger.
Just as they looked to establish control however it was Orient that grabbed the lead and never looked back. Having underhit a through ball in a counter-attack a minute before, Kashket more than made amends with a decisive run across the edge of the box having cut inside from the right-hand side before curling an effort perfectly into the bottom corner.
Orient looked in control but credit was due to Alex Finney who found himself facing two Swindon forwards in a counter attack not long after the hour mark. Under pressure, the defender shepherded substitute Jack Richardson away from danger before robbing him of possession and finding a fellow gold and black shirt in midfield.
The tireless Sandy almost doubled the O’s lead with 70 minutes gone but it was all about the work of Agyemang who created the chance. Winning a 50-50 ball in the middle, the powerful midfielder galloped forward before finding Sandy who cut into a pocket of space before bending a shot narrowly over.
Andy Edwards would have been pleased with the way his side started to control the game and they doubled their lead with 15 minutes to go. Kashket won a free-kick on the right that Uzun crossed for Nikolaou who saw his header brilliantly saved from Moody before Finney was rewarded for his earlier defensive prowess with the simplest of finishes.
Orient found fifth gear with the goal and two minutes later put the game to bed. Agyemang again was at the heart of it who picked out Sandy with a perfectly weighted through ball and the pacey forward showed excellent composure to round the keeper and smash the ball home.
The O’s weren’t finished there though as Moncur got himself on the score sheet when he pounced on a loose ball in the Robins’ box to drill a low volley into the bottom corner and round off a lethal five minute spell for the O’s.
The home side did get a consolation with a minute to go when Uzun appeared unfortunate to concede a penalty after he appeared to have been fouled though made the mistake of picking the ball up and giving away a spot kick for handball that Jones duly converted.
It did not detract however from an excellent team performance that the O’s boss Edwards would have been proud of.
SWINDON: Aaron Moody, Curtis Da (Ryan Wood 71) Costa, Matthew Jones (C), Tom Smith (Amir Gied 65), Luke Matthews, Salvyn Kisitu, Joe English (Jack Richardson 61), Callum McCormack, Will Randall, Lee Marshall, Tyreke Johnson
SUBS: Nathan Marks, Claude Da Costa
GOALS: Jones pen 41
ORIENT: Charlie Grainger (C), Sam Ling, Jack Humphrey, Lawson Okimeji, Alex Finney, Andys Nikolaou, Freddy Moncur (Nick Brown 85), Montel Agyemang, Sinclaire Sandy, Scott Kashket (Christian Owusu 82), Josh Uzun (Shola Oladipo 90)
SUBS: Kane Adams, Robert Mensah
GOALS: Kashket 58, Finney 75, Sandy 78, Moncur 80