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Orient’s youth to take on team managed by former academy graduate Purse

PUBLISHED: 15:00 16 October 2018

Ex-O's defender Darren Purse (right) looks on while playing for Staines Town as John Marquis scores for Leyton Orient in an FA Cup clash during the 2015/16 season (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Ex-O's defender Darren Purse (right) looks on while playing for Staines Town as John Marquis scores for Leyton Orient in an FA Cup clash during the 2015/16 season (pic: Simon O'Connor).

07958 573219 simon.oconnor@virgin.net

Ex-O’s defender Darren Purse will be on the touchline against Leyton Orient’s under-18s in the FA Youth Cup this week

Leyton Orient’s clash away to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the third qualifying round of the FA Youth Cup on Wednesday night will be notable for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the O’s under-18s will be seeking to continue the club’s good recent run in the competition.

Last season, they reached the third round before losing at West Bromwich Albion’s Hawthorns Stadium after winning four times in the tournament having started out in the second qualifying round.

The year before, in the 2016/17 term, Orient’s youth-team provided a shining light in a terrible season for the first-team with a goal-crazy journey to the third round.

After a 6-0 win away to Southend United was followed by the 7-1 thrashing of Poole Town, Danny Webb’s under-18s lost out 3-1 away to then-Premier League champions Leicester City on a memorable night for the E10 club.

Even though this season has been difficult for the O’s youth, they made it through the second qualifying round with a 2-1 success at home to Romford.

Now they will make the long trip to AFC Rushden & Diamonds and on the touchline will be a familiar face to Orient fans.

The Diamonds youth-team are managed by Darren Purse, who ironically progressed through the O’s academy during the early 1990s.

Stepney-born Purse played over 50 times for Orient before leaving at the end of the 1995/96 campaign and going on to carve out a very successful career in the Football League.

He played in the Premier League with Birmingham City and West Brom and was a regular in the Championship with Cardiff City.

Since calling time on his playing career last season, following a spell with Enfield Town of the Bostik Premier, Purse has focused his time on coaching Oxford United’s under-16s and Rushden & Diamonds’ academy side.

The ex-Orient defender did face his old club during the 2015/16 campaign when his Staines Town team visited east London in the first round of the FA Cup.

Purse actually netted at Brisbane Road, but the O’s, then-managed by Ian Hendon, ran out 6-1 winners.

The 41-year-old will hope this next encounter with Orient is a lot closer and the game on Wednesday will kick-off at 7.45pm at Hayden Road.

Diamonds under-18 boss Purse said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better draw in the FA Youth Cup.

“Leyton Orient at home to my AFC Rushden & Diamonds. It will be great for our lads to come up against and test themselves against a full-time academy and it is where it all began for me.”

The O’s under-18s, who have struggled in the Youth Alliance South East division of late, will now be aiming to upset someone who has gone through the journey they are currently on.

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