Leyton Orient kids impress despite EFL Trophy defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion
- Credit: Archant
English Football League Trophy Southern Group G: Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s 1 Leyton Orient 0
Leyton Orient were knocked out of the EFL Trophy after a 1-0 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s in Southern Group G.
Alberto Cavasin gave an opportunity to a number of young players and they didn’t let him down.
While it was another defeat on paper, it was a step in the right direction defensively and O’s did have some late chances to earn more reward at Falmer Stadium.
Cavasin made the maximum six changes to the starting team following Sunday’s 6-0 defeat at Sheffield United.
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Jay Simpson captained the side with Alex Cisak, Alan Dunne, Callum Kennedy and Sandro Semedo retaining their place.
Aron Pollock returned at the heart of defence with Jens Janse at right-back and Josh Koroma was given a chance to impress out wide – making his full debut in the process.
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Zan Benedicic also started a match for the first time since signing as did the most recent recruit Michael Collins.
It was a welcome boost to see Paul McCallum up front with Simpson too after the pair had shone so much at the start of last season.
Orient’s bench was full of current or graduated academy members as well and just reward for a group of players who continue to shine at Brisbane Road.
Brighton got play underway at a virtually empty Falmer Stadium and threatened after just five minutes, but Uwe Huenemeier’s header from a Solly March corner went into the side netting.
O’s responded instantly with Semedo working a yard of space and testing Casper Ankergren with a low drive.
The visitors threatened again in the ninth minute when Benedicic’s cross found McCallum, but his stabbed effort was deflected over.
It had been a bright start by the east Londoners and just as they looked to build on that, a mistake led to the opener.
Benedicic got caught on the ball deep inside his own half and Elvis Manu was played through on goal.
Cisak saved the Brighton forwards effort but the ball was heading for the net until Pollock brilliantly slide in to clear.
Orient’s young defender injured himself in the process and before he had time to get up, Richie Towell had controlled just inside the area and lashed into the roof of the net with 16 minutes played.
It was cruel on the O’s and now was the real test of character for a team that has crumbled far too easily recently whenever they’ve gone behind.
Pollock was doing his utmost to ensure the visitors didn’t trail any further and was enjoying a competitive battle with Seagulls striker Manu.
And having weathered the storm, Orient began to impose themselves on the contest again and went close in the 32nd minute.
Simpson spread the play wide to Janse and his deep cross fell perfectly for Semedo at the back post.
But Tyler Hornby-Forbes was able to deflect the wingers volley for a corner, which ultimately came to nothing, yet it was an encouraging moment for the League Two side.
While O’s were defending strongly, they were struggling to create anything going forward apart from Semedo who had looked dangerous on the left.
A minute of stoppage time was added on at the end of the first half and Brighton tried to add a second.
Dunne lost the ball in midfield and the Seagulls broke with Manu played in down the right, but Pollock came across well to deal with the danger.
The first half performance of the 18-year-old was one of the major positives for Orient at the break.
Victor Adeboyejo was introduced at the start of the second period with Simpson making way and Dunne taking the armband.
Brighton brought on Kazenga Lualua at the interval to give an example of the quality in their squad.
Cavasin was forced to make another change when Janse walked off having appeared to dislocate his shoulder five minutes into the second half.
Myles Judd couldn’t be introduced to replace him until three minutes later, but eventually came on for his second O’s appearance.
It didn’t take long for the right-back to be involved as he linked up with Koroma before Adeboyejo had a shot deflected behind for a corner.
Orient’s right-hand side looked a lot more threatening now and all of the youngsters were being encouraged by their senior team-mates.
The Seagulls threatened for the first time in the second half on 63 minutes, but Lualua was forced to let fly from range and Cisak easily held.
Judd was catching the eye and winning his individual battle against the 25-year-old former Newcastle United winger.
With the seconds ticking away O’s slowly pressed for an equaliser and began to go closer to levelling the scores.
First of all McCallum headed a corner from Kennedy wide with quarter of an hour remaining at Falmer Stadium.
The forward then linked up nicely with Koroma, who worked a yard of space before testing Ankergren and although the Brighton goalkeeper spilled the effort, he was quick to the rebound.
It was another sign of encouragement for the east Londoners as they pushed to earn a creditable result.
Henry Ochieng, who played for Orient’s under-18s in the FA Youth Cup last Wednesday along with Judd and Koroma, came on for his debut with nine minutes remaining.
First team coach Danny Webb had a lengthy chat with the talented youngster before he replaced the extremely disappointing Benedicic.
Then Koroma, after doing well to win a corner, went down with cramp late on, but was able to resume.
O’s pressed from two successive set-pieces, yet Brighton managed to defend both before eventually clearing the danger.
And then Adeboyejo was presented with a fantastic chance to equalise with three minutes remaining.
The substitute, along with Koroma, forced a mistake at the back, but Adeboyejo spurned the great opportunity by slotting wide.
Orient continued to press as two minutes of stoppage time were added on at a virtually empty Falmer Stadium.
A fine run by Koroma presented Adeboyejo with another chance, but he fired over and that was the last opportunity of the match.
O’s exited the EFL Trophy following their second defeat in the competition, but they could be pleased with their efforts.
None of the youngsters let the club down and showed they might be worth a chance in the league this weekend.
Brighton & Hove Albion under-23s: Ankergren; Hornby-Forbes (Molumby 46), Huenemeier (Hall 24), White, Hunt; Hutchinson, Collar; March, Towell (Lualua 46), Starkey; Manu.
Unused substitutes: Sanchez, Ward, Cox, Tilley.
Leyton Orient: Cisak; Janse (Judd 53), Dunne, Pollock, Kennedy; Koroma, Collins, Benedicic (Ochieng 81), Semedo; Simpson (Adeboyejo 46), McCallum.
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Dalby, Alzate, Clark.
Attendance: 549 (No figure given for Leyton Orient supporters).