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Steve Davis all smiles after thrilling FA Cup replay between Leyton Orient and Dagenham & Redridge

PUBLISHED: 07:30 18 October 2017

Leyton Orient's young defender Dan Happe passes the ball forward (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient's young defender Dan Happe passes the ball forward (pic: Simon O'Connor).

07958 573219 simon.oconnor@virgin.net

The O's kept their second consecutive clean sheet last night and ended their eight-match run without a win to reach the first round proper

Steve Davis was thrilled with Leyton Orient’s defensive performance during last night’s 1-0 win over Dagenham & Redbridge in a FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay at Brisbane Road.

Macauley Bonne scored the only goal of the game in the 23rd minute to end O’s run of eight-games without a victory.

Orient needed Charlie Grainger to be in top form during the second half, but they were also indebted to their defenders.

Jake Caprice, Michael Clark, Dan Happe, Joe Widdowson and Myles Judd all excelled in the 5-3-2 formation and played their part in the triumph.

“You’ve always really got to build the base from not conceding because I always feel like we’ll create chances and we always do,” said Davis.

“As I say, they seem to have adapted very well to the change of system and we’ve got different players to play in all the positions.

“We are a little bit short in one or two areas because I had 11 out for the replay, but the lads that did play did extremely well and they’ll stay in the team.”

The performance of Widdowson was another highlight for Davis with the former Dagenham man again looking assured as part of the three centre backs.

Since returning to the team in that formation at Barrow, O’s have drawn twice and now won on one occasion.

Widdowson led from the front against a powerful Dagenham attack and eventually had the last laugh after receiving boos from the away supporters.

Davis added: “The position seems to suit him. He is strong, quick and is better in the air than people give him credit for.

“He has held the defence together with the young players alongside him and helped Dan and Michael.

“It was a very young two next to him and I felt he controlled that situation very well and marshalled the back three.

“Both of the last two games he has played in that position he has done excellently and I thought he was good at Barrow as well. Hopefully, if we keep the system, he’ll continue to do well and be consistent.”

Another big positive was the display of Judd, who was embroiled in a great battle with opposition full-back and ex-O’s trainee Sam Ling.

The duo gave absolutely everything to the cause for their team, but it was the younger man who claimed bragging rights from this match-up.

Judd was superb defensively and provided lots of energy, which appeared to in the end be infectious to the rest of the Orient XI.

“Myles gets us up the pitch quick. He defends very well and better than Jake on the other side,” admitted Davis.

“Jake won’t mind me saying that because he knows he has got to improve, but to be fair he is defending better now we are giving him that responsibility to keep that five at the back, so he is doing that better, but ‘Juddy’ has also been good and energetic.

“He struggled with cramp in the last game on Saturday, but he showed in the replay he has recovered well and has been able to go for 90 minutes at the same sort of pace.

“All he needs to do is improve that final ball and add a little bit of quality, but it’s very difficult being right-footed as a left wing-back because you always have to cut back.

“It is for us to work with him on his left foot and see if we can improve him in the final third, but defensively he’s been solid.

“And I always say to the lads who aren’t playing that you’ve got to be ready and ‘Juddy’s’ definitely been ready.”

During Orient’s recent poor form, it appeared the team were crying out for some more energy and youthful exuberance.

More injuries and unavailability has allowed Davis to try something different plus a few of the youngsters of late and it’s paid off with O’s now unbeaten in three.

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