Five-star O’s start pre-season with comfortable win
- Credit: David Simpson/TGS Photo
Pre-season friendly: Harlow Town 0 Leyton Orient 5
Leyton Orient started life under interim head coach Ross Embleton and without the late boss Justin Edinburgh with a 5-0 win at Harlow Town this afternoon.
Matt Harrold opened the scoring in Essex with O's legendary manager on the mind of everyone on numerous occasions during the day.
New signing Conor Wilkinson doubled Orient's lead before half time and then James Brophy made it 3-0 early into the second period.
Recent recruit Lee Angol added a wonderful fourth before James Alabi got a deserved goal late on which earned huge applause from the travelling faithful.
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It was an encouraging start to pre-season for the League Two club, but tougher tests are to come, starting on Tuesday night against Championship outfit Hull City.
The O's were back at Harlow for the third consecutive year and excitement was in the air like usual, but there was also sadness.
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In the away dugout, there was no Edinburgh following his shock and tragic death in June after a cardiac arrest.
A minute's applause took place for the late Orient head coach before kick-off and bucket collectors had walked around the stadium taking donations for the Justin Edinburgh Foundation, set up in honour of the former Spurs defender.
It was hard not to think of the O's legend in Essex, but this also represented the start of what would no doubt be an emotional 2019/20 campaign.
Embleton's first team saw him stick with the 3-4-1-2 formation which served the club so well in the second part of the previous National League season.
Sam Sargeant earned a rare run-out in goal while Josh Coulson captained a youthful back line which included Myles Judd, Hector Kyprianou and Shadrach Ogie.
In midfield, Josh Wright made technically his third debut for the club and up front was new man Wilkinson.
Dean Brill and Jamie Turley were present, but not part of the matchday squad and club captain Jobi McAnuff was in his coaching kit for this encounter.
Jordan Maguire-Drew had Orient's first chance of note, but curled a free kick from 22-yards wide before Harrold missed with a free header from close range not too long after the 10th minute.
Eventually the opener arrived at Harlow Arena and the first of Embleton's tenure in charge went to Harrold.
New boy Wilkinson played in Maguire-Drew and he rounded Josh Bexon in the home goal and chipped into the area.
Harlow were unable to clear and the ball was worked to Harrold, who took a touch and fired home on the turn despite the best efforts of a Harlow defender.
And it was a case of goals coming like London buses for O's with the second scored in the 24th minute.
Maguire-Drew was again involved, getting away from his marker with ease before he played in Wilkinson and he produced an impressive composed finish.
Embleton's team could have extended their advantage before the break - wing-back Joe Widdowson guilty of failing to make the most of a fine opening - but academy graduate Sargeant was called into action before the half time whistle.
He produced a full-stretch save to deny Serge Erkarslan's free kick from range and it ensured it was 2-0 at the interval with the Orient players leaving the artificial surface to warm applause.
O's changed XI completely at the break and new signing Lee Angol was given a run out in front of the fans for the first time.
In the 56th minute the former Shrewsbury Town forward almost opened his account for Orient, but struck an effort against the post from a tight angle after fine footwork.
Youngsters Arthur Janata, Jayden Sweeney, Brendon Shabani and Ruel Sotiriou were involved now and eager to impress interim head coach Embleton.
However, it was the transfer-listed James Alabi who made a big impression and it was him who created the visitors' third in the 67th minute.
Not long after he hit the post following excellent skill by Angol, the powerful forward raced down the right, past his marker and cut back for Brophy to tap home.
Boss Embleton would have been pleased and was even happier three minutes later when Orient made it 4-0.
Recent recruit Angol got his first for the club, curling a superb free kick up and over the wall and into the corner.
It was a goal of the highest quality and O's will hope it is the first of many the striker nets in the red of Orient this season.
Alabi continued to show his ability and came ever so close to finding the net with 72 on the clock in Essex.
The ex-Tranmere Rovers attacker cut inside and let fly from 25-yards, but saw his shot smash against the crossbar and away to safety.
He almost made it third time lucky minutes later, but Bexon, formerly of Southend United, pushed his header wide.
Eventually the moment everyone wanted occurred and Alabi scored in the 80th minute and it was just reward for his impact since entering the fray.
Again he caused problems down Harlow's left-hand side and come inside the area and drilled into the bottom corner to finally hit the back of the net.
Orient's supporters were delighted and despite being transfer-listed in May, perhaps the striker does have a future at Brisbane Road this season?
The visitors may have added more goals to their tally before full time, but Brophy blazed over and Sotiriou lacked the sufficient power to beat Bexon after a fantastic run into the area.
Referee Lloyd Wood brought the friendly to an end after O's had a couple more shots blocked and Embleton's squad will travel out to Spain on Monday for a training camp in Marbella.
Leyton Orient first half XI: Sargeant; Kyprianou, Coulson (c), Ogie; Judd, Gorman, Wright, Widdowson; Maguire-Drew; Wilkinson, Harrold.
Leyton Orient second half XI: Janata; Ling, Ekpiteta, Happe, Sweeney; Brophy, Clay, Shabani; Alabi, Angol, Sotiriou.