Josh Koroma has learned so much and improved as a player despite lack of stability in the past at Leyton Orient
PUBLISHED: 12:30 02 May 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
The academy graduate has made first-team appearances under eight different permanent managers at Brisbane Road since his debut in 2016
Josh Koroma believes he has come a long way since making his Leyton Orient debut at Barnet over two years ago on April 9 2016.
The teenager was introduced for then player-manager Kevin Nolan with 63 minutes on the clock at the Hive and O’s 3-0 down.
Although it was a day to forget for most involved at the Brisbane Road club, Koroma showed flashes of his potential and has kicked on since and made his 60th appearance for Orient last Saturday and scored during their 3-1 National League win at Gateshead.
While the loss in north London over two years ago was the beginning of the end for Nolan, and Andy Hessenthaler followed him out of the exit door months later, it was the start of a promising journey for their young winger from south London.
Koroma said: “It doesn’t feel like two years ago since I made my debut, but I remember the Barnet game well.
“I come on when we were 3-0 down and I just wanted to impress and ‘Hessy’ said ‘we are three down, just do what you can and try to nick a goal’ and that’s what I tried to do. I would like to think I have come a long way since then.”
After playing three times at the back end of the 2015/16 season, Koroma earned more chances in the 2016/17 campaign.
Unfortunately they happened under five different managers with the teenager working with Hessenthaler, Alberto Cavasin, Andy Edwards, Danny Webb and Omer Riza.
Given the constant change at the top, it was no surprise Orient suffered relegation and finished bottom of League Two.
Koroma made 24 appearances in all competitions during the 2016/17 season and had one memorable afternoon in south Wales.
O’s young team, then managed by Webb, produced a masterful display in the rain and mud at Newport County to win 4-0 and Koroma grabbed a hat-trick.
It couldn’t prevent relegation though, which was confirmed on April 22, and Orient ended the campaign with a fifth different boss, fan protests and huge uncertainty over the future of the club.
But Koroma said: “It was good to make that many appearances, although obviously I would have liked to have made them in much better circumstances.
“I guess it is what it is at the end of the day. I got my chance and I tried to take it and grab it with both hands.”
Fast forward to the present day and Koroma is a 19-year-old with a decent amount of experience in men’s football now.
Despite his young age, he has made first-team appearances for Orient under eight different permanent managers at Brisbane Road.
Five of them occurred in the 2016/17 season and while it was a campaign to forget, the teenager will draw on the experience he gained forever.
Koroma added: “I would like to think I will never experience something like that again, but I did learn a lot.
“I learnt how to play under different managers and how to adapt with different players all the time, so I think the experience was vital and has definitely helped me.”
A younger player is better off learning his trade in a stable environment, but Koroma has made the best of a bad situation and is reaping his rewards with Orient now in a healthy position on and off the pitch.