Leyton Orient’s U18s were pipped in the last minute as Southend United beat the O’s 4-3 after extra time. Orient had been 3-1 up, but a late comeback from the visitors forced the game into an extra half an hour.
Goals from Jaedon Phillips, Charles Clayden and Bradley McClenaghan weren’t enough as Southend edged a spectacular tie and prevented the O’s progressing to the next round.
The O’s took the lead through a magic goal. Some intricate build-up play from Jayden Sweeney and Bradley McClenaghan saw the ball find its way to Charles Clayden. The winger whipped in a perfect cross for Jaedon Phillips to head home from the edge of the six-yard area.
Clayden added Orient’s second goal just six minutes later. The left-winger kept his composure to curl the ball across the keeper following a sublime through ball from McClenaghan. The centre-midfielder played the ball perfectly behind The Shrimpers defence, giving Clayden time and space to find the back of the net.
McClenaghan nearly added a third before 30 minutes, volleying the ball towards goal but his snapshot was well saved by Southend 'keeper Callum Taylor.
The visitors warned Orient of their counter-attacking ability when Matt Rush smashed Sean Campbell’s post from close range before Freddy Eastwood curled an effort just over the bar as Southend looked for a goal back.
Their attacking prowess was rewarded just before the break through O’Shane Stewart. Hector Kyrpianiou’s loose pass was intercepted by Stewart, who ran into space ahead of him before finding the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Charlie Lee-Kelman smashed the post after 52 minutes with an effort from outside the area, as Southend came out of the blocks in search of an early equaliser.
Orient were well drilled and soaked up relentless pressure from the visiting side before McClenaghan restored Orient’s two-goal lead. Clayden this time turned provider when his cross from deep floated to the back post where McClenaghan side-footed a superb volley into the net.
The O’s threatened to run away with the tie as Phillips had the ball in the back of the net, tapping home after Clayden’s effort hit the post. However the striker was denied his second of the evening by the assistant referee.
Southend forced the game to extra time with a late comeback. Terrell Egbri first pulling a goal back after 86 minutes before the referee gave six additional minutes of stoppage time. Matt Rush hammered home the equaliser after 94 minutes. His low effort from inside the area just past the glove of Campbell and into the net.
The visitors controlled the first period of stoppage time, as Eastwood and Lee-Kelman both went close. The linesman then disallowed his second goal of the game, this time a Southend effort. Samuel Knock was adjudged to have come from an offside position as he headed home from a free-kick.
Both teams looked leggy in the final 15 as the game ticked on towards a penalty shootout. Lawrence Hammond tried his luck from distance but his effort dragged wide. Sean Campbell denied Jon Benton snatching a late winner, diving high to keep out the midfielders goal-bound effort and tip it around the post.
With the game seconds away from a penalty shoot-out, Lee-Kleman capitalised on a loose ball to race into the box and fire home a winner. The O's players collapsed to the floor in disappointment on the full-time whistle but the 336 supporters who came to support the youngsters were certainly impressed by the spirit and ability that both teams showed on the night.
ORIENT: Sean Campbell, Alfie Fleming, Jayden Sweeney, Ernold Haxhiu, Mason Hall (Kyrell Palmer 50), Brendon Shabani, Jeremie Sivi, Hector Kyprianiou, Jaedon Phillips (Lawrence Hammond 69), Bradley McClenaghan (Tom Mulqueen 79), Charles Clayden (Jordon Adeyemi 100)
SUBS: Sam Amedu
GOALS: Phillips 19’ Clayden 25’ McClenaghan 63’
BOOKED: Clayden 34’ Shabani 105’
SOUTHEND: Callum Taylor, Reiss Chandler, Idemudia Osimeh, O’Shane Stewart (Samuel Brogan 83), Samuel Knock, Miles Mitchell-Nelson, Terrell Egbri (Issa Mpenga 109), Jon Benton, Charlie Lee-Kelman, Matt Rush, Freddy Eastwood
SUBS: Jamie Grossart, Ben Dabbis, Jimmy Wallace
GOALS: Stewart 41’ Egbri 86’ Rush 94’ Lee-Kelman 120’
BOOKED: Stewart 94’ Egbri 101’
Referee: Steven Rea