O’s Youth Team Coach Danny Webb praised his players’ professionalism during last night’s FA Youth Cup victory at Tower Hamlets.
The U18s ran out 3-0 victors at the Mile End Stadium thanks to goals from Charles Clayden, Eric Lopes and Ruel Sotiriou, and Webb was delighted with their application throughout.
“I thought it was a very good learning experience for a lot of the scholars,” Webb told leytonorient.com.
“We are very first-year heavy and have found it tough in a few games this season when coming up against sides who have got a lot of 18-year-olds in their squad. A lot of the Tower Hamlets players were in that bracket and it was pleasing for me to see on a development note that they stood their ground when the going got tough.
“A few of them had a difficult time at the start but didn’t shirk from the challenge. The first goal helped going into half time and then I believe they really upped the gears in the second half.”
Whilst praising his sides defensive performance throughout the first half, the O’s coach also acknowledged the efforts of the hosts Tower Hamlets and admitted it was a challenge that couldn't be dismissed.
“If you look at a lot of first team FA Cup draws it can be difficult for teams to go to these sides, and sometimes you have got to stay in the game for an hour and grow into it.
“It was a learning curve for the players to see that they cannot come into these types of games and stroll about, because they had a lot of players who I have seen us come up against during previous years when at professional clubs,” he explained.
“They were a handful and if I am honest, were unlucky not to go ahead in the first half. Our back four and goalkeeper stood firm however and we reaped the benefits of that after the break.”
The fixture also added a different experience for the U18s in having to prepare for an evening fixture under the floodlights, a challenge in which Webb felt the O’s youngsters adapted to well.
“As mentioned before a lot of these lads are very young and new to my way of working, so I didn’t want to build up the game too much as it could make them nervous ahead of the fixture. We trained on Sunday as we would prepare for any other game and I trusted to them to prepare correctly on their own.
“I was trying to get it into the lads that they should enjoy the occasion with people there supporting and it being under the floodlights. This is just a baby step however, and the aim is for them to be playing in the first team when there is a lot more pressure and completely different to what they have come to expect at this level.
“With all that said, I was pleased with how, at this stage of their development, they all dealt with the test.”
Following last night's victory the O's will now host AFC Hornchurch in the Third Qualifying Round, another challenge which Webb knows will not be easy.
“I’m sure that Hornchurch will be a stiff test and I actually went to watch them a few weeks ago,” he added.
“They are a very good side and we have to remember that at this stage of these boys careers there is a very thin gap between all the players given that a lot of them are likely to have been recently released by professional sides.
“It certainly won’t be easy and going back to last night, it was pleasing that the boys approached it professionally and worked for the result, rather than taking Tower Hamlets for granted. It will be another test for them playing at Brisbane Road, but they now have to keep that same mentality and earn the right to win.”