Sam Sargeant happy to get Leyton Orient chance, but praises rival Charlie Grainger after Dover Athletic draw
- Credit: Archant
The 20-year-old got a late call-up to play and didn’t let O’s down with a strong display on the whole despite some nervy moments
Leyton Orient goalkeeper Sam Sargeant was delighted to show his quality during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with National League leaders Dover Athletic, but was quick to praise his rival following the match.
21-year-old Charlie Grainger has been the preferred option in goal this season and was starting at the weekend as well until he suffered a hip injury during the warm-up.
It meant Sargeant, 20, made his first appearance of the campaign and his save in the opening minute from James Alabi proved crucial as Ross Embleton picked up a point in his opening match in interim charge of the O’s.
“You don’t come into training and train hard not to play,” said Sargeant. “Everyone wants to play, but I have a very good relationship with Grainger.
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“I can only speak highly of him and on the training pitch we push each other. I feel we are both good goalkeepers and when we work together, we encourage each other.
“As much as it’s a rivalry, it’s a union that not a lot of people understand and even with the youth-team goalkeepers because we all work together and have a great relationship.
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“I would never wish an injury on anyone and it’s very unfortunate, so I hope he recovers and it is nothing serious because he has done well, but I’m glad I could help the team in a positive way and I’m sure he would have done had he played as well.”
After making 18 appearances in all competitions last season, it felt like an overdue opportunity for the talented Sargeant.
Grainger has impressed at times this term and is certainly not to blame for Orient’s league position, yet several of the recent goals O’s have conceded have required questions to be asked.
Too many times a cross into the area has resulted in the east Londoners having to pick the ball up out of their net and it ultimately cost Steve Davis his job.
While Sargeant may not be as good as Grainger overall, he appeared to command his area better than his rival on Saturday and was constantly communicating with Orient’s back four.
Davis made plenty of changes in October and then November to try and arrest O’s poor slump, but he never tried something new in goal.
Embleton didn’t either and Sargeant only came in at the last minute due to an injury, yet he deserved his chance to show what he could do.
There were nervy moments including when Manny Parry had a goal disallowed after coming together with the Orient youngster.
Sargeant also rushed off his line in the second half, though it proved to be the right decision with Alabi failing to get in on goal.
However, a big problem for O’s has been conceding from crosses in the area and the willingness of Sargeant to come for these balls early on seemed to settle down his own back four and put off Dover’s attackers from gambling anymore.
It was one of many positives to take from Orient’s performance on Saturday where they showed the type of fight and spirit which has been lacking too often in recent months.
Sargeant added: “We have our ideas of playing and we want to pass the ball and move it around, but sometimes it doesn’t come off and that’s part of football and it’s how we react and how we recover.
“I thought when things went wrong on Saturday, everyone else around us was on it to clear and play their part in stopping anything major coming from it.
“We want to play a certain way and it doesn’t always work out, but we have got to keep trying and it showed because we were playing some good football at the end and we had a lot of chances.”
Regardless of whether Grainger is fit or not to play tomorrow against Chester, Sargeant, for me, should keep his place in the team.
The former Redbridge loanee demonstrated his potential against Dover and he’ll only improve with more game time, which he now deserves.