Uzun steals the show with four goal salvo as O's win again to continue strong finish to season
Leyton Orient U18 4-2 Stevenage U18
Josh Uzun was the man of the moment as his four goals helped Leyton Orient U18s sink Stevenage 4-2 at the Whitbread Sports Ground.
Academy Director Andy Edwards handed debuts to U16s pair Myles Judd and Jaydon Thorbourne as plans for next season started to take shape, but it was the goal scoring exploits of Uzun that stole the show in Orient's penultimate game of the season.
The midfielder's four-goal haul took his tally to 15 in all competitions to represent a wonderful return rate from his position.
With both teams looking to end their season on a high the game began in a predictable manner with each set of players looking to establish a footing.
The home side continued to grow into the match with every passing moment and it eventually led to them taking the lead after 13 minutes. Jerome Martelli pounced on a poor goal kick from Kavel Patel, and although the Stevenage keeper redeemed himself by saving the striker's effort the loose ball would find its way to Uzun, who caressed a lovely shot into the bottom corner.
Orient then came close to doubling their lead through the lively Martelli, but after cutting inside Norley Botaka he could only fire his shot straight at Patel.
The O’s had every reason to be content with the threat they posed during the opening 20 minutes, but their early endeavours suffered a setback on 22 minutes. Debutant Thorbourne had his pocket picked by George Casey in the Orient half, and the Stevenage player managed to advance into the box before being upended by Andys Nikolau. Referee Daniel Richardson was forced to point to the spot, and Fejiri Okenabirhie would step up and send Charlie Grainger the wrong way to equalise.
But on the stroke of half time the hosts regained the lead. Sincaire Sandy fantastically surged past three challenges in the right-hand channel before his cross picked out Uzun, who headed past Patel for his second goal of the game.
Orient remained in the ascendancy during the opening moments of the second half, as Martelli and Judd combined to present an opportunity for Uzun, but a good save from Patel prevented the midfielder from completing his hat trick.
However, Uzun would soon achieve the feat thanks mainly to the persistence of Martelli. The striker showed great determination to chase down and dispossess Ryan Johnson and play in Uzun, who remained composed to send Patel the wrong way with an accomplished finish.
But within five minutes of the strike referee Richardson was again forced to award a penalty in favour of Stevenage. A harmless pass seemed to be making its way through to Grainger, but a mix-up between the keeper and Nikolau saw the Orient stopper bring down Sam Alderson. Okenabirhie once more stepped up to beat Grainger and pull the score back to 3-2.
An edgy final 20 minutes looked likely to ensue, but it would be left to Uzun to have the last say on matters. The hard work of Martelli had been clearly evident throughout, and he again managed to wriggle away from Johnson in the final third and pick out Uzun, who clinically slotted past Patel to ensure Orient’s dominance was reflected in the score line.
“It was really good to score four goals today as it’s never happened to me before,” said man of the match Uzun.
“The boys up front worked hard, and they helped give me space to exploit from deep. Jerome (Martelli) especially did really well for my last two goals through his hard work and positive attitude.
“Everyone in the squad wants to finish the season on a high.”
The O’s will conclude their league campaign next week with a trip to Peterborough United.
Orient: Charlie Grainger, Myles Judd, Jaydon Thorbourne, Andys Nikolau (Sam Ling, 74), Alex Finney (C), Freddy Moncur, Montel Ageymang, Sinclaire Sandy (Scott Kashket, 77), Josh Uzun, Jerome Martelli, Elyon Egbeku (Shola Oladipo, 63). Subs not used: Ben Bridle-Card, Jack Humphrey, Kane Adams.
Goals: Uzun (13, 43, 63, 73)
Bookings: Finney, Kashket
Stevenage: Kavel Patel, Dale Gorman, Norley Botaka, Ryan Johnson (C), Ben Kennedy (Jamie Silvestre, 72), Ryan Towner, George Casey, Sam Alderson (Louis Yamfam, 62), Brandon Carney, Fejiri Okenabirhie, Ross Millard. Subs not used: Tyler Reading, Zak Guerfi
Goals: Okenabirhie (Pen 22, Pen 68)
Referee: Daniel Richardson